Yelp Files for $100M IPO, Potential Payday Ahead for Bessemer, Benchmark and Elevation

Yelp joined the parade of Internet companies angling toward the public market by unveiling plans for a $100 million IPO and bringing a potential payday to backers Bessemer Venture Partners, Benchmark Capital and Elevation Partners.

The IPO market for established Internet companies is heating up again, at least for bigger name players, such as Groupon and Angie’s List, both of which got nice first day bounces.

Yelp, the San Francisco-based site for local business reviews, could have what it takes to get a warm Wall Street reception. It attracted about 61 million unique visitors in the third quarter as its review grew 66% to 22 million, according to an S-1 filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. However, profits have yet to arrive and the company cautions it may not be profitable anytime soon.

Yelp’s backers include Bessemer, which holds 22.5% of the company’s stock, Elevation Partners (22.4%) and Benchmark (16.2%), according to the S-1.

Also among the company’s top shareholders are board chairman Max Levchin, a co-founder of PayPal and founder of Slide, and Yelp co-founder and Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman, a former vice president of engineering at PayPal. Levchin owns 13.8% of the company and Stoppelman owns 11.1%, the S-1 shows.

Yelp’s growth rate is impressive. For the first nine months of the year, revenue came to $58.4 million, up 80% from $32.5 million in the same period last year. For all of 2010, sales totaled $47.7 million. Local advertising makes up the largest portion of its sales, or 69 percent.

Yelp’s operating losses amounted to $7.4 million through the nine-month period and add up to $32.1 million over the life of the company.

The company says in its S-1 that it doesn’t anticipate turning profitable in the “near term.” It lists among its business risks the possibility that it may ultimately not generate sufficient revenue to reach or maintain profitability.

Yelp also says it expects its revenue growth rate to decline as the number of new markets it can enter in the United States decreases.