Yelp hires new CFO as business wanes

Yelp Inc. named a new finance chief, a move that comes as the online-review company faces pressure to boost its financial performance.

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San Francisco-based Yelp on Thursday said David Schwarzbach would become chief financial officer on Friday. He succeeds James Miln, who took the role on an interim basis in September, when Charles "Lanny" Baker left the CFO seat for a similar role at Eventbrite Inc.

Mr. Schwarzbach most recently served as finance and operations chief at Optimizely Inc., a company that provides testing and personalization tools for websites, mobile apps and connected devices. He joined Optimizely in 2015 from eBay Inc., where he worked in various finance positions, including CFO of the North America marketplace.

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"With David's appointment, we have a strong management team in place to continue the execution of our strategy to drive revenue growth and continued margin expansion," Yelp Chief Executive Jeremy Stoppelman said in a statement.

Mr. Schwarzbach is joining a company that is struggling to monetize the traffic it generates, analysts said.

In its most recent quarter, Yelp reported weaker-than-expected sales and said profit fell as it ramped up spending on marketing, products and other items.

The company Thursday reported $268.8 million in fourth-quarter sales, up from $243.7 million a year earlier. Analysts had predicted $273 million for the latest quarter.

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Earnings dropped to $17.2 million, or 24 cents a share, from $31.9 million, or 37 cents a share, in the fourth quarter of 2018.

"This is going to put pressure on them to reconsider whether they need to partner with another company in this space," said Victor Anthony, an analyst at Aegis Capital Corp.

People familiar with the matter said in September that daily-deals company Groupon Inc. could be preparing an effort to buy Yelp.

Yelp declined to comment beyond its press release. Groupon didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Mr. Schwarzbach's previous experience could be useful in the new role, said Tom Forte, an analyst at D.A. Davidson & Co. "They have someone with extensive expertise in data analytics and e-commerce," Mr. Forte said.

Yelp on Thursday also announced that Christine Barone, the CEO of True Food Kitchen, has been appointed to its board, effective March 1. She succeeds Mariam Naficy, a member of the board for six years, who stepped down Feb. 8.

Yelp shares, which closed at $36.50 on Thursday, dropped more than 5% in after-hours trading.