In February 2014, eBay announced that it was closing down Epinions and would not be accepting new reviews. Old users were granted access to their accounts until March 2014. EBay has stated that its decision arose due to declining participation and other factors.
Founded in 1999, Epinions paid consumers for their reviews and used user input to determine which reviews should be seen or hidden. It had a massive catalog of products and services that consumers could review. Eric Goldman of Forbes describes the company as being at the "leading edge of the Web 2.0 phenomenon," referring to the switch of online publishers relying on user-generated content instead of traditional methods.
Epinions preceded Yelp, demonstrating to online audiences that amateur consumer reviews could be as credible and expert as a professional review. Epinions paid reviewers, which Goldman hypothesizes was to attract interested consumers, but the success of Yelp and other review websites have demonstrated that cash compensation is not crucial for reviewers, nor is it even recommended. Epinions also established a web of trust among users, sorting reviews based on other users' opinions, which distinguished it from Yelp, which uses a sorting algorithm.
Epinions was featured in a New York Times article that described the start-up as an "instant company." It was designed to allow everyone to share their relative fields of expertise.