Yell acquires TrustedPlaces for its recommendations potential

It’s been a four year ride, but TrustedPlaces, the UK’s earliest and oldest Yelp-like local reviews site, has been acquired by Yell Group Plc, the holder of the local business directory. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed but we understand both founders and investors HOWZAT Media, the fund setup by dotcom veterans Hugo Burge and David Soskin, are “very happy”.

Sokratis Papafloratos, chief executive and co-founder of TrustedPlaces, is now joining Yell as head of social products in the UK. His former co-founder Walid Al Saqqaf departed last year for other opportunities but we understand the parting was amicable.

The reason for the purchase is clear. Yell has been unable to innovate well enough to generate recommendations from local consumers. As a small fast moving startup which has iterated well TrustedPlaces now has a tonne of expertise in this. And the last we heard, the site also become profitable last year.

The question is, will this be enough? Yell has certainly dropped off my map for years now when I’m looking for local businesses. It’s either a Google Maps search or, while mobile, an iPhone app such as Qype, Rummble or Yelp which can geo-locate me and tell me what’s around.

However, Yell does plan to do a lot more with it’s 3D maps going forward, which are at least as good as Google’s.

Yell has 399,000 mainly small business advertisers. Mark Canon, president of new media at Yell in the UK, is calling this “a significant growth opportunity” since recommendations help local businesses to attract new consumers.

TrustedPlaces reviews will be added to Yell’s business listings, eventually leading to full integration under the domain.

TrustedPlaces was launched in late 2006 and is now on 700,000 unique users a month.