Yelp has a new CFO. An IPO can’t be far off

Popular local search and reviews site Yelp is getting closer to a possible public stock offering.

Yelp’s CEO has told VentureBeat that the company wouldn’t venture down the road to an initial public offering (IPO) until it hired a chief financial officer. As of late July, the company has checked CFO off their list, so now what?

Going to ground, apparently.

“We simply have nothing new to announce at this time,” says Vince Sollitto, vice president of communications. “When we are in a position to make news, we will.”

VentureBeat reached out to Yelp after the company announced the hiring of CFO Rob Krolik (pictured to the right) on July 28. We were told he wasn’t available for comment. Nor was CEO Jeremy Stoppelman. Nor was Stephanie Ichinose, head of public relations. Nor was Sollitto, apart from today’s no-comment comment.

“We have demurred on interview requests for our new CFO at the moment in order to give him a chance to get his legs under him here at his new company before making public comments,” says Sollitto. As for Stoppelman, Sollitto says, “He and I were traveling together for business last week and he is on a different trip for business today. The CEO does have to travel to meetings occasionally, as inconvenient as it can be.”

Lack of comment isn’t conclusive, but it makes us wonder.

A company considering IPO will first create an IPO team, consisting of the lead investment bank, an account and a law firm. Then there will be an “all-hands” meeting, which takes place six to eight weeks before a company registers with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yelp has refused to comment on the timing for an IPO.

Last week’s lack of comment might be proving prescient, as the recent market meltdown could change the IPO strategy for Yelp as well as other companies, like Groupon and Zynga, which have already filed plans to go public.

At Yelp, Krolik will oversee corporate finance, accounting, investor relations and real estate functions. He reports directly to Stoppelman. Krolik joined Yelp after being the CFO for Move, an online real estate company that includes Move.com and REALTOR.com. Krolik worked at Move since January 2009, assisting in a capital restructuring. Before Move, Krolik served as vice president and CFO at Shopping.com, where he helped the company go public before it was acquired by eBay in September 2005. Krolik stayed on at eBay as vice president for global finance operations at eBay’s marketplaces division.

Yelp received $25 million from Elevation Partners in January 2010. Prior to raising that round, Yelp reportedly received buyout offers from Google and Yahoo in the range of $500 million. In February 2010 Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told the Wall Street Journal he wasn’t in a hurry to IPO. My, what a difference a year can make.

Yelp was founded in San Francisco in July 2004 and has raised $56 million to date. The company claimed 53 million unique visitors as of June 2011. Yelpers have written more than 20 million reviews.

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