Originally published March 26 2015
Billion Dollar Bully reveals extortion tactics employed by marketing giant Yelp
by Jonathan Benson, staff writer
(NaturalNews) It's a popular tool for finding unique restaurants, coffee shops, and other local establishments in a given area or region that are popular, or unpopular, based on user-contributed reviews and ratings. But billion-dollar "bully" company Yelp is the subject of a new documentary film by the same name, Billion Dollar Bully, which aims to expose the allegedly corrupt dealings and marketing strategies of this leading name in community-oriented business promotion.
Kailey Milliken, the brainchild behind the budding Kickstarter-funded film project, says Yelp actively manipulates and fabricates "user" reviews to extort and take advantage of small businesses rather than promote them. Milliken describes Yelp as a "$3.6 billion racket against small business owners," holding that the digital conglomerate continues to operate unethically without consequence, wagging money and influence in the face of justice.
"Billion Dollar Bully is an investigative documentary about Yelp that examines the claims by business owners of extortion, review manipulation and review fabrication," explains the film's Kickstarter page. "In this documentary you will meet business owners from across a broad spectrum, whose commonality is their allegations of Yelp's questionable business dealings."
Multi-billion dollar Yelp sends in the big guns to shut down two-person film production companyHaving recently met and exceeded its $60,000 production goal -- as of this writing, Billion Dollar Bully has received $79,781 worth of pledge money from supporters -- this intriguing documentary film project is now on track to realize fruition. But Yelp isn't at all thrilled with the project. Shannon Els, Yelp's vice president of corporate communications told CNBC during a recent interview that she thinks the project is "weird."
According to Els, what Milliken suggests about the nature of Yelp's business practices have long been dismissed by both federal judges and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). In a statement to Business Insider, Els contended that Milliken's claims have "no merit," and that Milliken has "a conflict of interest, as she has a history of trying to mislead consumers of Yelp."
But Milliken denies all this, noting that what's she doing must really be cutting at the heart of Yelp's operations, hence why the company is even taking notice of the project in the first place.
"They sent in this person to discredit me, and I'm just so surprised," stated Milliken, as quoted by Observer.com. "I mean, we're raising money on Kickstarter to do this indie documentary," she added, emphasizing that it's a small, two-person production company this multi-billion dollar corporation is trying to shut down.
Billion Dollar Bully project seeking $100,000 "stretch goal" by April 20Milliken must be doing something right, otherwise Yelp wouldn't even bother with trying to challenge her project in the first place. Stressing that she's not trying to endorse a Yelp competitor and promote any specific restaurant or business with her project, Milliken contends that she only wants to uncover the deeply embedded corruption she claims is inherent to Yelp's business model.
"I have a lot of questions for them, and if they don't have anything to hide, they should be open to having an open discussion about each point," stated Milliken on CNBC, explaining that Yelp has repeatedly refused to sit down and have an honest interview with her.
Despite having reached her initial $60,000 goal on Kickstarter, Milliken says this is the "bare bones, minimum amount needed" to fund the film project. She has since extended the "stretch goal" to $100,000, which hasn't yet been reached -- as of this writing, the pledge sum is now $90,100.
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