Google and Yelp, once partners, have had a bitter and far from private rivalry for some time now. Yelp’s CEO, Jeremy Stoppelman, rarely has good things to say about the search giant these days, a sentiment which came across again in a recent interview. Stoppelman got right to the point, saying that Google had “lost their minds” in the user space and were focusing far too much on capital, value and the resolution of their recent legal issues. On that note, Stoppelman took the opportunity to point out that Google made a contribution to the tune of $760,000 to the George Mason University Law and Economics Center. The Center later published a number of research studies showing favorable outcomes for Google in the legal world, mostly centering around the fact that Google has violated no laws and are certainly not an illegal monopoly or potential victims of antitrust regulations.
According to Stoppelman, this is not Google’s only foray into creative lobbying. He credits former CEO Eric Schmidt with the savvy investing, claiming that since Yelp is facing down tons of venture-funded startups and big, ancient movers and shakers, Schmidt may have once sat exactly where Stoppelman sits, learning the fine art of avoiding legislation while running a large company. It’s no secret that Schmidt got a front row seat to watch a few giants fall from grace, particularly the behemoth Microsoft. The Microsoft competitor that Schmidt was running when Microsoft was declared a monopoly, Novell, never healed from the wounds Microsoft inflicted before they were crippled by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Stoppelman also divulged a brief history of Google and Yelp’s troubled relationship. In 2009, Google tried to buy out Yelp for a cool $550 million and Stoppelman decided against the offer. After that, Google licensed out Yelp’s content for reviews on Maps pages for businesses. Yelp stopped the deal after Stoppelman noticed Google’s Maps pages beginning to look an awful lot like Yelp pages. Left without the content from Yelp, Google launched its own review platform. Stoppelman, however, claims that Google used their web crawler to pull Yelp data, a function agreed upon for search purposes, and simply stole the reviews and other place data. These claims were never conclusively investigated, but Stoppelman firmly believes that Google stole Yelp’s content.
Stoppelman thinks that the European Union is right to sink their legal teeth into Google, stating, “”The reality is there are lots of people who feel very strongly [about Google] the way that I do. But very few have been able to step out of the shadows and talk about this…” Stoppelman, being no stranger to having the Federal Trade Commission at his door, says that the agency should re-evaluate Google’s control over Search and Android.