Bet you thought the next big story in the ailing daily deals business was going to be Andrew Mason’s ouster. And yet, it’s a competitor making headlines: Bloomberg News reports that LivingSocial has laid off 400 of its 4,500 employees. That’s about 9 percent of its staff, for those keeping score at home. Read More
Yesterday, Lot18–the members-only site for flash sales of wine–announced in a statement distributed to wine industry publications that it will permanently shutter its U.K. operations, effective at the end of the week. That includes laying off six full-time employees.
Apparently, British oenophiles are hard customers to come by these days.
The statement explains the closing: “The supermarkets’ stranglehold on the UK market proved too powerful for us to compete with and we have not experienced the anticipated growth rate.”
For those keeping score at home, this is not the first time Lot18 has dropped the axe on a significant number of employees. Back in January, the luxe startup let go of 15 percent of its staff–its first stumble following an explosive expansion. At the time, Lot18 CEO Philip James told Betabeat, “A lot of this is a natural part of the way a business grows and evolves.” Think he’s currently eating–or perhaps swigging–his words? Read More
Daily deals were on the rise last year, and for a few heady months everyone got really excited about them. Groupon’s copy was still cute and quirky and hadn’t yet begun to tip over into cloying; 2-for-1 skydiving lessons were still a happy novelty; this reporter even interviewed for a Google Offers copywriting gig (and no, she didn’t get it).
But then came that faint gloom cloud, and suddenly the daily deal business model was being called into question. And frankly, it got really, really tiring to delete emails from Groupon, Living Social and Google Offers on a regular basis for coupons we would occasionally buy and then never use.
That’s why we’re thankful for Unsubscribe Deals, a new web application from a “recovering lawyer” named Edwin Hermawan and a West Village waitress named Lea Pische. In one easy step, the app connects to your Gmail account and automatically unsubscribes you from the deals emails you signed up for, including Groupon, Amazon Local and Daily Candy. Read More
On most online dating sites, there’s no incentive to connect with someone right away. Match.com profiles are just always there for you to peruse, so there’s no pressure to act now and meet your perfect match. Recent Harvard Business School grad Arum Kang wants to change that with her new startup Coffee Meets Bagel, which integrates the concept of time-sensitive matchmaking with daily deals incentives. Read More
All the tech world loves a demo, so we couldn’t leave yesterday’s Daily Deal Summit without catching the Tech Showcase. Four CEOs–slowly losing their audience to lunch–were each assigned eight minutes to sell us on new solutions. Billed as having the potential to ”dramatically improve” attendees’ businesses, how did they stack up? Read More
Slouched comfortably in his chair, holding forth on the prospects of a would-be Groupon, TechStars’ David Tisch expressed doubts about the name of the very event where he was, at that moment, speaking. “The word ‘daily deal’ is, like, staring me in the face, and I’m scared of it.”
“It’s poison, I think, to a large audience outside of probably this room.” Read More
Around 4 p.m. on a recent Thursday, all but 14 of the employees of the members-only luxury e-commerce site Lot18 got an email asking them to report to the new conference room for an urgent meeting. The remaining employees, including the vice president of operations and director of operations, received an almost-identical note but were asked to report to the “alt” conference room instead. They were told they were being let go, asked to leave the building immediately and instructed to return on Saturday to clean out their desks.
The survivors were shocked by the layoffs, which came a day earlier than planned due to inquiries by Betabeat. Lot18, which started with private sales for wine before moving into full-price wine and epicurean deals, has raised a total of $44.5 million from investors—its latest round spearheaded in November by the highly regarded Accel Partners. Lot18 also moved into a new office over the summer that features a tasting room, mounted LCD screens that pop up a buyer’s location on a map every time Lot18 sells a bottle and a permanent DJ booth. In its one-year existence, Lot18 launched several new verticals, bought Paris-based e-commerce site Vinobest, and announced a foray into Europe.
To industry insiders, the scenario sounded familiar. Mass flash sales—deep discounts that expire usually after one to three days—had been touted as the first real innovation in e-commerce in years, and start-ups that applied the flash-sales phenomenon to the luxury market had investors salivating. But the former venture capital darlings suddenly seemed to be hemorrhaging employees. Earlier this month, another site, Boston-based Rue La La, slashed 60 of its 550 employees after months of growth.
Suddenly, the question is being asked: Could flash sales for the well-to-do wind up being more of a marketing gimmick than a business model? Read More