The online review site Yelp is ramping up its long-standing feud with Google, saying in a new report that the search engine’s monopoly is not only hurting Yelp but is also hurting innovation and consumer choice in the digital marketplace.
Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told Buzzfeed News in an interview published Tuesday that Google’s practices amount to anti-competitive behavior.
“If Google is the starting place for all of the people that are tapping into the web, to the extent they get in front of consumers and block them from finding the best information, it’s really problematic, and that can stifle innovation,” he said.
Yelp has spent years trying to sound the alarm over Google’s practices. It has accused the search engine of displaying its own user reviews ahead of those from the competition, including sites like Yelp.
“The only way that we could get them to do the right thing in the early days was by shaming them in the press. So that’s where this all began,” Stoppelman told Buzzfeed.
“And then eventually they got tired of that and … as we would shame them, they’d get less responsive. And so we would naturally progress to the next level, which was ‘Okay, the only source of power now that might be able to check them is government.'”
Efforts to break up Google are now gaining momentum as the search engine has come under antitrust scrutiny from politicians on both sides on the aisle.
President Donald Trump has suggested that Google is a monopoly while Democratic hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has introduced a plan to split up big tech companies like Google and Amazon. European Union regulators are also taking a look at Google’s practices.
In September, state attorneys general announced that they will begin an antitrust investigation into Google, looking into whether the company’s control of the online search market stifles competition and hurts consumers.
Comcast recently joined a regulatory fight against Google’s control of the online advertising market.
Google has denied that it engages in illegal business practices.
Yelp is arguing that when Google displays its own results ahead of the competition, it deprives consumers of choice.
“Google’s reviews… It is kind of comical that they call their’s reviews!” Stoppelman told Buzzfeed. “Most, probably like 60% or 70%, of their reviews are actually ratings with no text. But they have to compete against us, so they’re generous with what they call a review.”
Stoppelman said he feels that the rest of the world is beginning to see Yelp’s perspective on Google’s practices.
“The first seven years or eight years, there was a lot of eye-rolling in Silicon Valley about Yelp being a complainer, or I’m a whiner, or this is a stupid issue,” he said. “I think the reality is now the world has caught up.”