A skanky mannequin has been discovered in the San Francisco headquarters of Yelp. The doll is supposed to represent a Yelp user, but she also makes the perfect mascot for the self-consciously trashy local ratings site itself.
Twitter, the 140-characters at a time blogging service, was shaped by its founder's dry, understated sense of humor. The company, not to mention the service, seems to be a sort of Silicon Valley inside joke that, improbably, Ev Williams and his fellow Twitterers have managed to play on the rest of the world. For this, Sarah Lacy labels Williams a "nontrepreneur." Fittingly, Sarah Lacy gave his microcompany got a mere four pages in her new book, Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good:
Yelp founder Jeremy Stoppelman and Nish Nadaraja, marketing director of the local listing site, sat down with San Francisco's preternaturally hunky god-mayor Gavin Newsom. Newsom agreed to the meeting in order to convince Yelpers he's "more hip than the 3.5 stars makes me appear." Before they lobbed him softball questions in earnest, he got to pitch his environmentalist credentials, taking credit for a greener taxi fleet — though his executive order commanding municipal agencies to convert to greener vehicles has stalled, and it was the Board of Supervisors who passed the taxi legislation. All most voters seem to care about is The Hair:
The likely closure of troubled online retailer RedEnvelope has a benefit for space-hungry startups near its SoMa headquarters at 149 New Montgomery. Yelp and Slide are among the rapidly expanding companies in the neighborhood. I asked Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman if he was going to swoop in on the space. "I wish 'cause it looks like a cool building, but we recently added space at 706 Mission so I think we're locked in there for a while," he told me. No word from Slide CEO Max Levchin. RedEnvelope signed a five-year lease in July 2004, with a base rent of $51,332 a month for 28,000 square feet. (Photo by Google Street View)
Yelp, the local-reviews site, is as infamous in San Francisco as it is nonfamous anywhere else in the country. Its parties, always hedonistic rampages of drunken conversations, burlesque troops, and makeout sessions in the photobooth, helped establish its local reputation and cement the loyalty of hardcore users. (Even the founders get in on the action!) Last night, Yelp held its holiday party at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Upon entering, I was greeted by a mass of San Francisco Yelptards, each louder than the next, all laughing, cajoling, flirting, and hugging each other. Self-congratulations were clearly in order.
Thanks to commenter yarbles, we were alerted to evidence of two more members of the PayPal Mafia posing, like YouTube founder Jawed Karim, in mafioso costumes. Pictured, above, Yelp cofounders Russell Simmons and Jeremy Stoppelman. (Stoppelman's the one with the fake mustache. At least, we hope it's fake.) Any more evidence out there? Join the gang.
A tip for those of you trying to mingle with successful entrepreneurs and VCs: Attend more than just the standard tech meet-and-greets. The people who are really in a position to help you with your startup never go to them anyway. So where to go instead? Check out events like last night's Lotus Vodka release party at SoMa's Euro-inspired restaurant Supperclub. You'll find founders and the moneymen behind them willing to chat and unable to prejudge you based on your nametag. Refreshing. Bonus: The nontech people who attend these things make for a far better-looking crowd. Far better-looking. The full report, and a gallery of photos, follows.
Michael Stoppelman, brother of Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman, is in no danger of being called a manly-man. The Google coder and occasional male model is apparently competing for the wussy title of BlissGuy, in a contest held by swanky Bliss Spa. (The winner becomes the "face" of Bliss' soon-to-be released men's line, a year's worth of products and facials, and a meeting with a model scout.)