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Yelp Reports Wider Loss for 2011 After Marketing Costs Climb

Yelp Inc., the user-generated review site that’s planning an initial public offering, reported a wider loss in 2011 after increasing spending to attract reviewers and make the service easier to use.

Yelp had a $16.9 million loss last year, compared with a loss of $9.74 million in 2010, according to a regulatory filing. Marketing and product-development spending both increased more than 50 percent.

The company filed to raise as much as $100 million in an IPO last November, with plans to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker YELP. Co-founded by former PayPal Inc. executive Jeremy Stoppelman in 2004, San Francisco-based Yelp is part of a resurgence in Internet offerings. Facebook Inc. filed for an IPO this week, following stock-market debuts last year by Groupon Inc., Zynga Inc. and LinkedIn Corp.

Yelp’s sales and marketing expenses increased 61 percent to $54.5 million, while product development costs rose 77 percent to $11.6 million, according to the filing. The loss attributable to shareholders was $1.10 a share, compared with 71 cents a year earlier.

The company’s revenue surged 74 percent to $83.3 million, with local advertising accounting for the largest portion. Unique visitors to the site increased 67 percent to 65.8 million in 2011, while reviews rose 64 percent to 24.8 million. Yelp lets users post reviews on everything from dentists to restaurants to public parks.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is leading the IPO, with Citigroup Inc. and Jefferies & Co. helping manage the deal. Allen & Co. and Oppenheimer & Co. also are working on the offering. Yelp’s venture backers include Bessemer Venture Partners, Elevation Partners and Benchmark Capital.

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