Google In Discussions To Acquire Yelp For A Half Billion Dollars Or More

Google and Yelp are in advanced acquisition negotiations, we’ve confirmed from multiple sources. And while the deal isn’t done, we’ve heard that it’s very likely to close. The price is supposedly at least $500 million.

Yelp was founded in 2004 as a way to let users leave reviews on local businesses. Comscore puts worldwide traffic at nearly 9 million monthly unique visitors, and it has been growing fast – the company says it’s real numbers are more like 25 million monthly uniques.

Yelp has whispered that 2009 revenues will be around $30 million and are expecting $50 million or so in 2010.

Yelp last raised venture capital in early 2008 from DAG at a $200 million pre-money valuation, we’ve heard. They’ve raised a total of $31 million over four venture rounds.

On the odds of the deal happening – one source says its 80% likely. Not signed, sealed and delivered, but past the term sheet stage.

Google is building out their own directory of local businesses with its Place Pages, which can be accessed via Google Maps and local search. They are encouraging local businesses to put Google-branded stickers in store windows and recently added their own ratings summaries to business profiles. Yelp, of course, already has all of this data, along with a growing and active audience of consumers who are used to finding (and rating) businesses on Yelp.

For their part, Google is clearly on a shopping spree. They recently acquired AdMob for $750 million, and were in the running on the LaLa acquisition. Expect lots of deals to be announced by them over the next three months.