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Yelp possibly looking for a buyer, report says

The popular social media site is said to be seeking a sale for as much $3.5 billion, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Yelp's mobile app lets users read reviews and even scope around for nearby deals. Screenshots by Nate Ralph/CNET

Is Yelp putting itself on the selling block?

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, the go-to site for crowdsourced reviews on nearly every sort of consumer-focused business is exploring a sale.

The company apparently has been working with investment bankers and been in touch with potential buyers recently, the Journal said, citing people familiar with the matter. The company could be valued at more than $3.5 billion in a sale.

"We don't comment on rumors or speculation," Shannon Eis, a Yelp spokeswoman, said Thursday.

Yelp's stock climbed more than 15 percent shortly after Thursday's news.

Founded in 2004, San Francisco-based Yelp has grown from being an email service for swapping recommendations to one of the country's most popular websites for reviewing businesses. With about 143 million unique visitors to the site a month during the first quarter, Yelp has received its share of criticism for publishing some seemingly untrustworthy reviews -- harshly negative on one end, or suspiciously positive on the other.

A possible sale may not come as much of a surprise. Zagat, the popular dining review and ratings guide, was acquired by Google in September 2011. That same year, Angie's List, another reviews site, went public.

The past year, however, has not been kind to either company's stock. Yelp's stock has fallen nearly 15 percent over the past year, and Angie's List has fallen even further: down more than 42 percent.

Update, 11:55 a.m. PT: Adds Yelp declining to comment.