Yesterday I read in the Wall Street Journal weekend addition that Google may be purchasing Yelp. A web application that contains over 8 million reviews by people like myself. It also contains a community of people who want their voice to be heard and a large volunteer base that has promoted the site. That’s a lot of crowd sourcing to build quite the asset. $500 million’s worth to Google and possibly $750+ million to other potential buyers. Now that others have outbid Google.

Now that is awesome news for Yelps founders. I wouldn’t mind a $750 million pay day. And no doubt they have invested a lot of time, effort, and money (about $31M) into building Yelp up to what is today. What about all the time and effort of the volunteers and reviewers? Some people suggest content should be free. We all like to contribute content, like this blog post. We all like to volunteer especially when we are passionate. Yet when your volunteer work and content is then sold to a third party, should you get a piece of the pie?

If I put up 48 reviews on Yelp, my contribution might be 0.0005% of all contributions on the site. If you take that as my interest in the site and multiply it by the sales price, I’ve essentially contributed about $3500+ worth of content for free. I’m trying to figure out if I’m o.k. with this and what others think about it as well? Should web application providers share the wealth with the community that brought them to where they are today?