Inc.com chooses Yelp as one of the best company names.
This gives me some personal satisfaction, having come up with the name and having to push for it to be adopted.
When we were looking to do a Yellow Pages based company at MRL Ventures, where we incubated Yelp, Jeremy Stoppelman wanted it to be called Yocal whereas I wanted Yelp (as a contraction of yellow pages and help). In the end, Jared Kopf got out his personal credit card and bought the domain directly, for $4K, while everyone slowly came round to the idea of Yelp.com.
“Yelp definitely has an emotional quality to it,” Altman says. “It’s an exclamation and it really emphasizes what the site does, which is aggregate reviews from all these extraordinarily passionate people. You get these connotations of a high-pitched cry coming from a dog or animal or something like that. It’s a name that really connects to the people on the site in a humorous way.”
Interestingly, the very qualities that Altman sites, i.e. the emotional cry of Yelping, like when you tread on someone’s toes, were the reasons why other people on the team were uneasy about using the name. Which shows either that the pejorative can often become the most positive or that you can post rationalize anything.