John Legend Wants To Create The Anti-Yelp

With his new tech startup It's Good, Legend wants to provide restaurant reviews without the snark.

These days, Yelp and Google Reviews seem more like battlegrounds than useful resources for diners and tourists. Businesses on Google have been held hostage by a flood of negative reviews, Yelp is doing its best to crack down on fake ones, and potential customers are left to suss out what's real and which recommendations are worth listening to. Amidst all of this, a new tech startup has entered the fray: It's Good, a social platform helmed by none other than velvet-voiced singer John Legend.

John Legend’s restaurant review app, explained

It's really easy for a restaurant's reputation to become mired in negative reviews that contribute very little useful intel. After all, anyone can leave a review on Yelp or Google that says something to the extent of, "I went when it was closed. One star."

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Legend's new app is different. It's Good plans to combat the negativity by allowing only recommendations to be made, not complaints. It's a single-minded approach that won't work if users don't trust each other's endorsements, so the team is looking to diversify the user base.

"It's actually not even built for negative comments," Legend told WSJ. "Either you recommend it or you don't."

The restaurant recommendations provided to users will be from a blend of people within that user's personal social networks as well as various influencers, critics, celebrities, and other public figures. Though It's Good is not yet live and remains invite-only, the app has given early access to actresses Jessica Alba and Minka Kelly, along with NBA player Harrison Barnes.

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WSJ explains that John Legend and his co-founder, tech entrepreneur Mike Rosenthal, conceived of It's Good during the pandemic, working out the details via Zoom calls. The company is planning on first growing its user base rather than aiming for revenue right away; eventually, It's Good might make money by taking cuts of restaurant reservations booked through the app, or by partnering with food and hospitality companies.

Personally, I'm all for cutting out excess noise from these recommendation services. At some point in its two-decade-long history, Yelp started to feel less useful, thanks to the pages of flippant and snarky comments from people who didn't even visit the restaurants (or other businesses) they were reviewing. And since Google reviews sometimes barely contain details about what was unsatisfactory, I have to take those with a grain of salt as well.

On the other hand, It's Good isn't a proven formula for success, either. If you don't have access to customers' legitimate issues with a restaurant or a business, it might be hard to know if, say, the food is good but the service sucks (or vice versa). Removing all criticism is not necessarily the best approach, but if constructive comments or suggestions are allowed within the scope of the recommendation, it really could be a good source of dining inspiration. Keep an eye out for this latest contender in the restaurant review space, because if the app can manage to balance recommendations with valuable information, Yelp might have a serious challenger on its hands.

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