Daily Daze

Flash Dance! Luxury Flash Sales Sites Regroup After Layoffs

kevin ryan

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

Metablogging

Wife of New York Senate Hopeful Marc Cenedella Is No Stranger to Blogging Controversy Herself

Brian Dorsey Studios via nytimes.com

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand roundly admonished TheLadders CEO Marc Cenedella yesterday following a New York Times story about content pertaining to women, sex, and drugs on his personal blog—or at least a blog that featured a giant photo of him and the tagline “The personal blog of Marc Cenedella.” As politics wonks will note, Mr. Cenedella, an anti-tax activist, is a likely Republican challenger to Ms. Gillibrand’s seat in the Senate.

A spokesman for TheLadders quickly responded that the posts in question, such as one that advocated for a holiday where women offer free oral sex along with a steak dinner, were not actually written by Mr. Cenedella, calling it a “staging site [that] contained testing content from a wide variety of sources, including spam from automatic spiders.”

Nonetheless, it wasn’t the first time that the Cenedella family has been in the news for its personal blogs. A source informed Betabeat that Mr. Cenendella’s wife Angela Cenedella, née Angela Kim, is the author of the popular lifestyle blog Vie Society, known for its unapologetically girly take on the luxe life and coining terms like “moopig” and “amazeballoons.Read More

Daily Daze

Layoffs at Gilt Groupe Complete: 90 Employees Let Go, Gilt City Closes Offices in Six Markets

gilt_groupelayoffs

Gilt Groupe’s 900-some employees can rest easy, for now. In response to questions from Betabeat, the company confirmed this afternoon that the recent spate of layoffs is over. CEO Kevin Ryan initially estimated that about 50 people would be let go, however, the total number of layoffs across Gilt Groupe’s businesses “ended at 80-90.”

In a statement, the company said, “We don’t foresee additional layoffs at this time.”

Betabeat heard word Friday that part of the restructuring would involved shutting down certain markets for Gilt City, the company’s location-based deals service that offers discounts on luxury events and experiences. In the statement, Gilt Groupe confirmed that it will be closing its offices in six secondary cities “effective immediately,” namely San Diego, Houston, Philadelphia, Seattle, Dallas, and Atlanta. “We have not been as successful in smaller markets and the resources they require take away from growing our core business,” the company said.

Prior to this move, Gilt City operated in thirteen markets, so this represents a significant reduction. Going forward, Gilt Groupe said it will be “servicing those smaller markets through a centralized sales force.” Read More

Daily Daze

Layoffs Underway at Gilt Groupe Right Now: ‘General Atmosphere Is Terrifying’

Gilt-Groupe

Last Wednesday, Betabeat broke the news of impending layoffs at Gilt Groupe. Later that morning, CEO Kevin Ryan downgraded the estimates we had heard, telling AllThingsD that the company intended to “selectively trim” about 50 people from its staff of 900 over the next couple months.

Tipsters have written into Betabeat that some of those layoffs are currently underway. “People leaving. Sadness. Super uncomfortable work environment,” said one source who wanted to remain anonymous, adding, “General atmosphere is terrifying.” Read More

Daily Daze

That $22 M. SEC Filing from Rue La La? That Wasn’t New Funding [UPDATED]

Rue La La elves Firing, Hiring and Funded.

News of layoffs at flash fashion startup Rue La La leaked last week: 60 people of the company’s 550-strong workforce had to be made redundant. But an SEC filing unearthed by TechCrunch today shows an odd contradiction: Rue La La just raised $22 million. UPDATE: The filing is not new money, Rue La La says, but rather a valuation filed as part of Rue La La’s equity plan, putting a dollar figure on equity and options that had already been issued. Read More

Daily Daze

Layoffs and Restructuring at Gilt Groupe as New Verticals Fail to Deliver Growth [UPDATED]

Gilt-Groupe

UPDATE: Gilt Groupe has not returned requests for clarification or comment, but responded via AllThingsD this morning.

CEO Kevin Ryan told the blog: “We are not closing down any businesses. We are not closing down Gilt Taste, and we aren’t merging Gilt City and Jetsetter.” Mr. Ryan also said, “In its fifth month of business, Park & Bond did more revenue than any other business in its fifth month,” although he did not say by what metric. He added that President John Auerbach is still employed at the company for now. But, he noted, there was a chance some of its top 15 executives may leave. (Chief Marketing Officer David Zucker left the company in July and Chief Product Officer Stefan Pepe left the company in June.)

Mr. Ryan did, however, tell AllThingsD that Gilt expects to “selectively trim” staff by about 50 over the next couple months, but claimed that by the end of March the number of employees would be larger than it is now. Gilt Groupe, he said, is on track for an IPO, possibly at the end of the fourth quarter, but mostly likely in 2013.

As for Gilt Taste, Mr. Ryan claimed that the site would need fewer staffers despite “doing great.”

Business Insider, where Mr. Ryan is chairman, has also confirmed impending layoffs of 50 to 60 people within the next week or so. According to Business Insider’s source, five to six percent of the company will let go across various departments in order to get cash-flow break-even by the second quarter of 2012.

Here is our original post:

Since Friday Betabeat has been hearing rumors about impending layoffs at Gilt Groupe. Late Tuesday night, a second source familiar with the company told us that the layoffs would happen on Wednesday and might be as high as 170 employees. We have reached out to Gilt Groupe for confirmation and will update the post as soon as we hear back.

The accounts vary, but both sources also point to restructuring within the company. One source said Gilt Taste, which hired former Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl as editorial director last May, is expected to function at half its current workforce, with the remaining staffers funneled into other open positions in the company. Another source speculated that Gilt Taste was likely to be shut down.

Betabeat also heard that Gilt City and Jetsetter, which overlap in the high-end travel market, will merge. In October, Gilt City, which has a partnership deal with Google offers, acquired the daily deals site BuyWithMe, which itself suffered from big layoffs in the crowded deals space. Read More

Things To Do When You're Drunk

Secret Revenue Stream for E-Tailers like Gilt Groupe? Drunken Ladyshoppers, Of Course!

The average young American human prepares to send a drunk text. (via wzlx.radio.com)

Alcohol and consumerism is a marriage as old as Tupperware parties and wine spritzers (or whatever ungodly mix of Tab and spirits passed for a cocktail in the 1950’s).

But as The New York Times‘ Stephanie Clifford reports, the boom in online shopping “has opened alcohol-induced purchases to the masses.” Indeed, ChannelAdvisor, which powers e-commerce for hundreds of sites, says order volumes peak about 8 p.m. (just after after-work imbibing). This year, the company reports that the number of orders placed from 9 to midnight has increased. (In our collective defense, it was a pretty grotesque year.)

Although retailers “can never be sure” whether you clicked “buy” on that bejeweled Hello, Kitty iPhone case because you thought it was a good idea or because that Cranberry vodka told you to, they are nonetheless putting promotions in place to take advantage of your vulnerable state. Read More

Daily Daze

Black Friday Report: Ideeli Doubles Weekend Revenue Over 2010

Ideeli CEO Paul Hurley

Just a quick hit from the front lines of the e-commerce madness. One of New York’s big daily deal players, ideeli, just fired off an email on their Black Friday sales. The economy as a whole may be in the toilet, but that’s not showing up in their numbers.

  • ideeli doubled revenue over last year for the Black Friday weekend.
  • Visits to the site were up 30% over last year during the same period.
  • Conversion rate was up 50%. Not only did more customers visit, they bought more.
  • Over the Black Friday weekend, mobile traffic was double compared to same period last year. ideeli is now seeing over 20% in sales coming from mobile devices.
  • Cyber Monday sales were up 36% as of 2pm yesterday.

The dark economic climate may in fact be contributing to ideeli’s success. Read More

BALLER STATUS?

Gilt Groupe’s Gold-Plated Atari: The Perfect Gift For That Special Taste-Lacking Startup Baller in Your Life

Lil' Wayne Should Personally Administer A Beatdown To Anyone Who Legitimately Wants To Stunt With This

Say you know a special young person who happens to have an inordinate amount of money to spend on ridiculous things because they’ve been blessed with cash following the selling out of a great idea (or the selling of a terrible one) to someone with Scrooge McDuck-money. And let’s say you need to get them a gift, or simply, a gift for them to buy themselves, because you can’t afford anything they have a taste for in life anymore, even if that taste is strictly centered around nothing more than the factor of out-and-out opulence multiplied by the stupidity and lack of need for the potential gift in question.

Well, here you go. And yes, this is real: Read More

Around the World in a Flash

Gilt Groupe Expands Internationally to 90 Countries

Gilt City, Gilt Country, Gilt World

Gilt Groupe keep growing. We reported recently that the site is hiring one new staffer a day and that it acquired the daily deal site BuyWithMe. Today, news broke that Gilt is pushing into 90 new countries, offering flash sales and full price home decor items.

After its recent funding round of $138 million introduced Gilt to the billionaires club, there’s been persistent chatter about an IPO. International expansion may be key to expanding revenues before a push onto the public markets.  Read More