Trustpilot

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Trustpilot, Inc.
Trustpilot logo.png
Type of site
Privately held
Founded2007; 12 years ago (2007)
Headquarters
Area servedNorth America, Europe
Founder(s)Peter Holten Mühlmann
Employees700+
Websitewww.trustpilot.com
Alexa rankIncrease 673 (December 2018)[1]

Trustpilot.com is a consumer review website founded in Denmark in 2007 which hosts reviews of businesses worldwide. The site is free for consumers and it offers freemium services to businesses.[2] Trustpilot has offices in New York, Denver, London, Copenhagen, Vilnius, Berlin and Melbourne, and employs more than 700 people and nearly 1 million new reviews are posted each month.[3] The firm relies on its users, software and compliance team to report and remove reviews from the platform that violate Trustpilot's content guidelines.[4][5][6][7]

History[edit]

Trustpilot was founded by the company’s current CEO, Peter Holten Mühlmann, in Denmark in 2007.[8] He started the company when his parents started shopping online. At the time, he was studying at Aarhus University, School of Business and Social Sciences and would later leave university to pursue Trustpilot.

After raising $3 million in early venture funding from 2008 to 2010, Trustpilot received an initial capital injection from SEED Capital Denmark and Northzone in November 2011.[9] One year later, Index Ventures, SEED Capital Denmark and Northzone invested $13 million in Series B funding in Trustpilot, which the company used for international growth.[10]

In 2013, Trustpilot opened offices in New York and London. In the same year, the company was named Danish Startup of the Year at Next Web’s European Startup Awards.[11] In 2014, Draper Esprit (formerly known as DFJ Esprit) invested $25 million in Trustpilot, along with support from the existing investors.[12] According to VentureBeat, the Series C funding round would help Trustpilot “bring its online retail reviews service to the U.S.”[13] At the end of 2014, Trustpilot employed 325 people and 400,000 new reviews were posted each month.[14] According to Website Magazine, “Trustpilot soared in 2014,” and experienced “record growth with an 80 percent year-over-year increase in revenue.[15]

In May 2015, Trustpilot received $73.5 million in Series D funding. The investment was led by Vitruvian Partners, with contributions from all existing investors.[16] In March, 2015, Google announced it was launching product ratings in Germany, the UK and France. In order to do this, “Google is aggregating data in Europe from different sources” including third party aggregators like Trustpilot.[17] Trustpilot has a licensing agreement with Google, allowing Trustpilot reviews to be listed as Google Seller Ratings, or “Google Stars.”[18] Trustpilot has published 13 million reviews about more than 100,000 brands.[19] Trustpilot has raised $118 million in venture funding.[19] Trustpilot employs about 700 people and roughly 1,000,000 new reviews are posted each month.[3]

Products[edit]

Anyone can post a review on Trustpilot. User account creation requires an email address or Facebook account.[4][5][6][7][19] Trustpilot allows businesses to be listed free with minimal promotion but charges them for extra marketing and other services. Trustpilot generates some of its income from subscribing companies who use its software to solicit reviews from customers and gain business acumen from reviews. It doesn't declare openly that it is engaging in paid marketing for some of the brands it features; one has to access a corporate page to find that out explicitly. The same is true for Trustpilot taking payment for managing reviews and engaging in advertising and promotion alongside so-called "neutral" reviews.[19]

Criticism[edit]

Independent investigations have revealed that review websites such as Trustpilot have fake reviews on an almost industrial scale.[4][5][6][7] There is controversy about the legitimacy of some of Trustpilot's and other consumer review websites' reviews and the way that it deals with complaints about them, although Trustpilot insists that it strives to only include genuine reviews.[4][6][7][20][21] The firm allows businesses to selectively display reviews about them, which may violate certain laws or regulations.[7] Trustpilot featured fake reviews for Bizzyloans, one of which depicted a picture of a woman who had died. The fake reviewers often steal the identities of real people to falsely build up reviewed companies' reputations. Most of Trustpilot's Bizzyloans reviews were fake, but Trustpilot deleted them after they were brought to light by KwikChex, an online investigations company.[22] Trustpilot denies that it permits any known fraudulent reviews on its site.[23]

On 14 September 2017, Trustpilot issued an open letter clarifying its review policy following allegations concerning the 'validity of reviews of online estate agent, Purplebricks, by customers'. [24][25]

Trustpilot's Facebook plugin for "Pro" and "Enterprise" customers (costing upwards of $549 per month[26]) allows a business to show selected Trustpilot reviews embedded within the business's Facebook page. The plugin supports filtering reviews[27] to show only those with a minimum star rating, yet no indication is given to Facebook users that the reviews they are reading are filtered. This allows the business to censor their negative reviews since they are more difficult to find (being visible solely on the Trustpilot website) than the positive ones (visible on the Trustpilot website and the Facebook page). Businesses using Trustpilot's free tools do not have access to the Facebook plugin [28] so are therefore unable to benefit from the review censorship that being a paying Trustpilot customer facilitates.

Reporting reviews[edit]

Trustpilot reserves the right to remove reviews without explanation. It insists that it always makes a bona fide effort to obey the law and its published policies to ensure that only authentic reviews remain on the website.[2][4][5][6][7]

Companies are allowed to publicly respond to reviews, or report a negative review if they believe that it violates Trustpilot's user guidelines or they have no record of the reviewer as a customer.[2] When a company reports a review, it is automatically replaced with a message indicating that it is being assessed. If the reviewer does not supply the requested information (e.g. proof of purchase) within seven days, the review is removed.[29] Even if proof is provided, companies that pay Trustpilot can still have the review removed.

Proof of purchase is not automatically required to post a new review[30] so there is little incentive for a company to report positive reviews. Given the company will prefer to report negative reviews,[31] this has the potential to skew reviews in favour of the company.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "trustpilot.com Traffic Statistics". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2018-05-20.
  2. ^ a b c "Terms & Conditions". trustpilot.com. Trustpilot. Retrieved 2015-10-21.
  3. ^ a b Ingham, Edmund. "48 Hours On The Copenhagen Startup Scene: Here's What I Learned". Forbes.com. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  4. ^ a b c d e Smith, Mike Deri. "Fake reviews plague consumer websites". theguardian.com. The Guardian. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  5. ^ a b c d Belton, Padraig. "Navigating the potentially murky world of online reviews". bbc.com. BBC. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  6. ^ a b c d e Naylor, David. "Google how can you trust www.trustpilot.co.uk ?". davidnaylor.co.uk. David Naylor. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Barsby, Adam. "Fake Online Reviews and Endorsements: Competition Regulator to Investigate Unlawful Practices". e-xanthos.co.uk. Xanthos. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  8. ^ "Trustpilot". crunchbase.com. Crunch Base. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  9. ^ "Trustpilot Raises $4.5m To Scale Up Trust Ratings For Shopping". TechCrunch. 2011-11-01. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  10. ^ "With Nearly 7M Reviews Of 100K Sites, Trustpilot Raises $13M From Index And More To Build Out A Yelp For The World Of E-Commerce". TechCrunch. 2012-12-11. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  11. ^ Martin Bryant. "The Winners of The Next Web's European Startup Awards 2013". Thenextweb.com. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  12. ^ Ho, Geoff. "Cash allows Trustpilot to spread wings | City & Business | Finance | Daily Express". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  13. ^ Christina Farr (2014-01-13). "TrustPilot nabs $25M to bring its online retail reviews service to the U.S. | VentureBeat | Business | by Christina Farr". VentureBeat. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  14. ^ "Trustpilot the story so far".
  15. ^ "Need Proof Reviews Matter? Trustpilot Soared in 2014". www.websitemagazine.com. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  16. ^ "Already a hit in Europe, Trustpilot gets $73.5M to become "the review site for the entire online world"". Pando. 2015-05-28. Retrieved 2019-01-13.
  17. ^ "Google Takes Its Amazon-Style Starred Product Ratings To Europe To Boost Shopping Searches". TechCrunch. 2015-03-26. Retrieved 2015-11-17.
  18. ^ https://support.trustpilot.com/hc/en-us/articles/202216898-Google-and-Trustpilot-FAQ
  19. ^ a b c d Kolodny, Lora. "Trustpilot Raises $73.5 Million for Credible Reviews of Businesses Online". wsj.com. Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 2015-10-16.
  20. ^ Haines, Lester. "Is iFlorist the greatest website in the universe, ever?". theregister.co.uk. The Register. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  21. ^ "iFlorist". bitterwallet.com. bitterwallet.com. Retrieved 2015-10-06.
  22. ^ "KwikChex works with BBC to expose Review Fraud". kwikchex.com. Retrieved 2016-08-24.
  23. ^ "Fake online customer reviews 'for sale', BBC finds". BBC News. Retrieved 2015-06-22.
  24. ^ "Open Letter in response to questions regarding Purplebricks and Trustpilot" (Press release). London: Trust Pilot. 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  25. ^ "Exclusive: Trustpilot review company explains its Purplebricks policy". Estate Agency Today. 2017-09-14. Retrieved 2017-09-21.
  26. ^ https://us.business.trustpilot.com/plans
  27. ^ https://support.trustpilot.com/hc/en-us/articles/201867047-Add-reviews-to-Facebook-with-the-Facebook-Page-Tab
  28. ^ https://us.business.trustpilot.com/plans
  29. ^ https://support.trustpilot.com/hc/en-us/articles/207312237-What-happens-when-my-review-is-reported-on-Trustpilot-
  30. ^ https://legal.trustpilot.com/user-guidelines
  31. ^ https://www.webbedfeet.uk/news/dont-trust-trustpilot webbedfeet.uk[dead link]