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Startups

Yelp Shows Way in Supervoting Stock Sunset

Last Wednesday, Yelp co-founder Jeremy Stoppelman and former chairman Max Levchin owned about 49% of the voting shares in the local business reviews site between them. On Friday, their combined voting stake was 11%.

In between, Yelp killed off a special class of shares held mainly by Messrs. Stoppelman and Levchin that carried 10 times as many votes as normal shares. They got new shares carrying one vote each, in line with all other shareholders. It’s a risky move in some ways. Without the so-called supervoting shares, Mr. Stoppelman could find it hard to fight off any outsider who wants to wrest control.

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Granting supervoting shares with 10 times as many votes to founders “who built the company from the ground up” as well as all other pre-IPO investors and shareholders was a logical step.