Yelp, the online reviews site for local businesses, has hired Goldman Sachs and Citigroup to lead its initial public offering of stock, according to several people briefed on the situation.

The offering, which is expected to value the company at $1.5 billion to $2 billion, will probably come to market in the first quarter of next year, a person close to the company said. Yelp is expected to file its prospectus by the end of this year.

In recent months, Yelp has openly telegraphed its intention to go public. At a technology conference during the summer, Yelp’s chief executive, Jeremy Stoppelman, said the company was still pursuing an I.P.O. but did not have a set time line. In late July, in a move that many interpreted as another step toward the public markets, the company hired a chief financial officer, Rob Krolik, who helped Shopping.com go public in 2004.

via Yelp Hires Goldman and Citigroup to Lead I.P.O. – NYTimes.com.