But of all the possible suitors, Apple might be best.
Apple is trying to find ways to pump up growth, and local e-commerce is an opportunity that could move the needle. According to BIA/Kelsey, the U.S. online ad market is expected to gap up from $23.1 billion in 2012 to $41.1 billion in 2017. As of right now, Yelp’s looking at a market that includes 53 million local businesses in the U.S. and western Europe alone.
Besides, Yelp has already done the heavy-lifting of building an effective platform; it has created sophisticated systems that filter reviews for quality and authenticity. That platform has been pushed by community managers across nearly 100 markets who help foster brand awareness and bolster reviews.
The obvious hang-up here is that Apple is notoriously averse to big mergers & acquisitions, but Apple’s sitting in the relatively unfamiliar — and certainly uncomfortable — position of starting to look like a tech-also ran (and with a stock performance to match).
With $145 billion in cash, Apple could easily snap up a variety of category-leading online and mobile operators. Yelp, as a target, would not only get Wall Street’s attention, but provide AAPL with a legitimate business spark.