Yelp Co-Founder And CTO Russel Simmons Is Out

(Psssst. I’m leaving …)

Yelp co-founder and CTO Russel Simmons, pictured here (left) with fellow co-founder and chief exec Jeremy Stoppelman, is leaving the company. Simmons will be transitioning to an advisor role and take some time off to travel, we’ve confirmed with the company.

Stoppelman and Simmons were both early software engineering employees at PayPal and went on to brainstorm new Internet startup ideas at a business incubator not long after the company was acquired by eBay.

Out came Yelp, which first started as an email recommendation service, was transformed to become a local business review site for the San Francisco area in October 2004 and has now grown into an international network that receives some 31 million unique visitors per month.

Six years later, Simmons is now transitioning to an advisor role at Yelp, we’re told.

Stoppelman says Simmons remains a “significant” shareholder in the company and will continue to provide support and advice as needed. No word on replacement yet.

As for what’s next for Simmons: first, some “much deserved time off to travel” and then probably yet another startup, likely as a founding member.

Yelp has raised $56 million in venture capital to date, from investors like ex-PayPal exec Max Levchin, Bessemer Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital and DAG Ventures. Elevation Partners earlier this year said it would be investing up to $100 million in the Internet company – so far it has injected 1/4 of that.

Late last year, we heard from reliable sources that Yelp was in acquisition talks with Google regarding a whispered $550+ million buy-out agreement. Later, we learned that Stoppelman walked away from the all-but-signed deal to move forward with the company on its own.

(Picture via Fast Company, photograph by Dan Escobar)