How one small business owner flipped the online review ecosystem on its head.
In 2014, chef Davide Cerretini advertised a special that would forever change his fate: Anyone who left his restaurant a 1-star review on Yelp would get 25% off a pizza.
See, his Bay Area-based Italian joint, Botto Bistro, was at a crossroads. Like many small businesses, it was enslaved to the whims of online reviewers, whose public dispatches could make or break its reputation.
He’d had enough: It was time to pry the stars from the “cold, grubby hands of Yelpers” and take control of his own destiny.
But the move would set Cerretini at the center of a long-standing battle between Yelp and disgruntled business owners — a battle including cries of “extortion,” review manipulation, and predatory advertising tactics.
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