Yelp CEO and founder Jeremy Stoppelman spoke at the Japan New Economy Summit today, giving a brief introduction to his service and how it works. Somewhat surprisingly, he announced that Yelp is now available in Japan, and you can find its service online right now at yelp.co.jp as of this morning.
During his talk, Jeremy explained that Yelp has about 120 million monthly users, with over 53 million reviews logged. He explained that with over 59% of Yelp searches coming from mobile, that they have truly become a mobile company.
Stoppelman says that Yelp wants to be in every country (they are now available in 26 markets), and it has a big challenge ahead in Japan, with services like Tabelog and Cookpad being so dominant already. It will be interesting to see how they fare. He explains:
We’ve always taken a one city at a time approach. […] You need high quality local data. You need locals to participate, not just tourists.
He said that this process really takes time, but that’s the nature of local. Singapore was their first exploration in Asia, but Jeremy said that they have long known that Japan is a very attractive market.
He cited some friendly nagging from SalesForce CEO Marc Benioff who always asked him “Why aren’t you in Japan?” But he says that on his last few trips it became apparent to him that it would work. He still thinks it will take time, but hopes that by the time the Olympics roll around they can be a household name.