Foursquare Raises $50 Million At $600 Million Valuation

Nicholas Carlson | Jun. 24, 2011

Foursquare just raised $50 Million at a post money valuation of $600 Million. Andreessen Horowitz led the round.

 

Spark Capital joined the round.

No insiders sold stock, unlike last time.

The money will go toward hiring and building out the merchant platform.

TechCrunch broke the story.

O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Union Square Ventures also participated.

It’s a mild upset that Union Square Ventures didn’t lead the round with its new later stage fund.

Here’s CEO Dennis Crowley’s blog post on the news:

Foursquare is not just about the check-in, or recommendations, or points, or badges. It’s about making the world easier to use. It’s about discovering new places, connecting with friends, and forging new relationships with the places you visit. It’s finding new ways to layer technology on the real world. All of our employees believe strongly in this vision, and we’re incredibly lucky to have investors and a board that feel the same way.

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GOOGLE OFFERS REVEALED: Here Are The Secret Details About Google’s Groupon-Killer

Henry Blodget | Jun. 25, 2011

Google launched its Groupon-killer, “Offers,” in Portland, Oregon, about a month ago.

 

And now it’s gearing up to launch in San Francisco and New York.

Could Offers become a massive new revenue stream for Google–the “second huge growth engine” that Google has long searched for in vain?

Could Google’s entry into the deals business clobber Groupon and other deal providers like Living Social?

To begin to answer these questions, we spoke to representatives of merchants who have signed on to offer Google Offers in New York. We also spoke with Google’s Eric Rosenblum, the lead engineer on Offers, and Google spokesperson Nate Tyler.

And it turns out that Google Offers does have a few key advantages over other deal providers that could shake up the deals industry and force Groupon, at least, to change the terms of its deals.

In other words, if Google makes a big commitment to the deals business–a big if–its entry into the market could hurt the businesses of Groupon, Living Social, et al, even if it does not end up “killing” them.


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How much is a Facebook “Fan” really worth?

Alyson Shontell | Jun. 23, 2011

 

Social media marketers often complain that their efforts aren’t measurable.

 

Hitwise used internal data to determine the ROI of Facebook advertising. It found that each Facebook fan generates about 20 visits per year to a retailer’s site.

“The figure of 1 fan = 20 extra visits to a website uses a unique methodology that combines Hitwise data with data from social media experts Techlightenment,” it writes.

“We took the top 100 retailers ranked in the Hitwise Shopping and Classifieds category and benchmarked visits to those websites against the number of fans those brands had on their Facebook page. We then also looked at the propensity for people to search for those retail brands after a visit to Facebook using our Search Sequence tool.”

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Mobile use not just for on-the-go consumers

 

The quick rise of mobile has signaled that consumers want information and content in new ways, but a new study shows that mobile is past the point of only being used for on-the-go consumers.

The study conducted by InsightExpress points to data that shows increased smartphone use at home, including watching videos, updating social networks and playing games. Additionally, the study shows that consumers are using mobile devices more than computers to access their emails and browse the Internet.

“The increase in smartphone use at home tells me is that we’re well past the stage of mobile being only an on-the-go medium, and marketers need to adjust their strategy to reflect this changing behavior,” said Joy Liuzzo, senior director at Insight Express, Stamford, CT.

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Ten mobile commerce best-practice tips for the holidays

By Mickey Alam Khan


June 22, 2011

 

Companies are increasingly seeing the potential of mobile and how the medium can help build relationships between the brand and the consumer, especially during the holiday season.

While many companies are still formulating their mobile strategy, it is key to incorporate either a mobile site, application or SMS into a multichanel holiday initiative. Consumers expectations are already high and they expect to turn to their favorite retailers or brands this holiday season in any medium — store, catalog, phone, online or on mobile. Here are some practical tips for holiday mobile commerce:

1. Have a transaction–enabled mobile store. Half-measures will not work. In a year’s time, when one out of two subscribers nationwide will have Web-enabled smartphones, they will expect the same experience on mobile as they do on traditional sites and in-store. Come holiday season, expect consumers to shop on mobile with the same expectations of shopping experience as generated online.

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Mobile instant messaging/SMS usage expected to triple by 2016

Messagestudy

Mobile instant message use is expected to triple in use by 2016

Mobile instant messaging through applications and SMS is rapidly growing, and by 2016 it is expected to triple in use, per a study by Juniper Research.

The study shows that by not only has there been an increase in mobile instant messaging in general, people are also using multiple platforms to talk to each other. The report also notes how many PC-based services are now making the switch to mobile apps.

“The most surprising figure we found was that instant messaging isn’t a revenue-generating exercise,” said Daniel Ashdown, author of the study and a research analyst at Juniper Research, Hampshire, England.

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Former Groupon Employee Describes High-Pressure Tactics Culture And Merchants “Freaking Out”

Jun 16, 2011

Editor’s note:Guest author Rocky Agrawal continues his in-depth TechCrunch series looking at the daily deal industry. Agrawal is an entrepreneur who has worked on local products since 1995. He blogs at reDesign and Tweets @rakeshlobster.

I received a couple of emails from a former Groupon employee which sheds some light on the sales culture at the company.  This is one person’s view, but it comes from a former insider.  The emails are below, and are fairly balanced and honest. You can judge them for yourself.

This information was provided on condition of anonymity. The employee left voluntarily for a position elsewhere.  ”I really don’t have any reason to fabricate anything, i just think its time mom and pop shops know what they’re getting into before getting swept up in the hype, and your series has been great,” the former employee said.

Some of the key points:

  • Some sales representatives care about merchants, others view them as a nuisance.
  • Some reps only care about commissions and don’t cap the number of deals that can sold. Groupon then has to do this in real time when merchants freak out.
  • Sales people (not surprisingly) are encouraged to squeeze as much as they can from a business.
  • Last minute changes to deals are common.
  • The ex-employee encourages small businesses to really run the numbers themselves.

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