LivingSocial is an online marketplace that allows its registered users to buy and share things to do in their city. Formerly headquartered in Washington, D.C., LivingSocial had roughly 70 million members around the world in 2013. The company shrank from a peak of 4,500 employees in 2011 to about 200 in 2016.
LivingSocial was founded as Hungry Machine in 2007 by four employees from Revolution Health Group. The company's first major application was their Visual Bookshelf application on Facebook which allowed users to catalog and share their favorite books with friends. Later, the company released PickYourFive and other Polls applications, making LivingSocial the number one application developer on Facebook as measured by page views. After acquiring BuyYourFriendADrink.com in 2009, LivingSocial launched a daily deals website, which since has become its highest grossing venture to date.
It was reported that the company had raised $800 million and was valued at $4.5 billion. In 2011, it generated $238 million in revenue but lost $499 million. In 2012 a class action lawsuit was filed against LivingSocial with respect to the expiration of deals, following a similar action against Groupon. A provisional settlement was reached in November 2012.
In 2012, the Government of the District of Columbia offered the company a number of tax breaks and incentives to open offices and hire workers in Washington, DC. However, a year later the company did not reach the size it needed to be for the tax breaks to kick in, as it had begun laying off workers and subleased offices it purchased earlier. It also announced it was changing its focus from daily deals to a web site and mobile app.
On April 26, 2013 it was announced that LivingSocial's database had been hacked, affecting 50 million registered users. The announcement stated that credit card information was stored in a separate database and was not compromised, but that user information including passwords, previously encrypted by LivingSocial as a precaution, had been exposed. On May 1, 2013, the Attorneys General of Connecticut and Maryland sent a joint letter to LivingSocial requesting additional information about the incident, as well as more details about the company's data management policies and procedures.
In November 2013, LivingSocial's website went down for nearly 48 hours after a database error.
In 2014 it laid off 400 employees, and in 2015 laid off 200 putting it at about 800 employees, down from a peak of 4,500 in 2011. In 2016, it laid off half of its remaining workforce.
The Washington Post reported that its growth and subsequent decline was similar to AOL's, and that many laid off or departed workers formed new tech companies in LivingSocial's home city of Washington, DC. After the layoffs, the Washington Business Journal reported that the company was "betting its survival" on a new restaurant program.
Since its founding, LivingSocial has undergone many leadership changes. In March 2012, co-founder Eddie Frederick stepped down as President and from the Board of Directors. A year later in March 2013, co-founder and CTO Aaron Batalion stepped down from his post. Most recently, in January 2014, LivingSocial's CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy announced his resignation, remaining CEO until a replacement was named. In July 2014, it was announced that Gautam Thakar, the then-CEO of Shopping.com at eBay, would succeed the position of CEO.
- In October 2010, LivingSocial announced acquisition of social adventure company Urban Escapes, which led to the launch of LivingSocial Escapes and LivingSocial Adventures.
- In November 2010, LivingSocial bought $5 million controlling stake in Australian social shopping site Jump On It. In March 2012, LivingSocial purchased Jump On it for $40 million.
- In January 2011, LivingSocial acquired a majority stake in LetsBonus, which now operates in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Colombia and Mexico. Launched in September 2009 in Barcelona, LetsBonus was an early operator of a collective buying service in Europe, particularly in the Spanish market. It sold LetsBonus in 2015.
- In March 2011, LivingSocial acquired InfoEther, a Ruby/Rails consultancy. Ruby on Rails is the framework upon which LivingSocial runs.
- In June 2011, Dubai Based GoNabit, an Arabic website for daily deals, was acquired by LivingSocial. GoNabit operates in the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, and claims to have saved consumers more than $5m in 2010-2011.
Group buying websites typically sign up a range of businesses to offer discounts, and take a percentage of the revenue.
- In June 2011, LivingSocial acquired DealKeren, which offers daily deals in Indonesia, and its parent company Ensogo, which offer daily deals in Thailand and the Philippines. Officially launched in June 2010, Ensogo currently has more than 800,000 members. Ensogo claims that its members have saved more than $25 million USD in 2010-2011. Ensogo is backed by Rebate Networks, an international venture capital group specializing in social commerce.
- In August 2011, LivingSocial acquired TicketMonster for $350 million. TicketMonster is one of the largest daily deal sites in South Korea and has an annualized run rate of $800 million in billings. In November 2013, LivingSocial sold TicketMonster to Groupon for $260 million.
- In April 2012, ONOSYS, a mobile and online ordering provider, was acquired by LivingSocial. ONOSYS operates in Cleveland, Ohio, and services over 75 restaurant chains including Papa John's Pizza International Inc., Panera Bread, and Applebee's International Inc.
Many of these acquisitions have since been sold.
In October 2016, Groupon Inc. purchased LivingSocial for an undisclosed amount. The Washington Post later reported this amount was $0. Groupon began laying off all remaining employees and closed the LivingSocial D.C. office.
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