Posts Tagged ‘commerce’

Square Discontinues Monthly Flat-Rate Plan

November 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Square said it is discontinuing a monthly flat rate plan it had designed for larger businesses. “Over the past year we heard from many of our customers that caps and limits in the program were inhibiting growth—at a certain point, rates went back up the more you sold,” the company said in a post on its Web site . “So, effective February 1, 2014, we’re replacing the Square monthly pricing program with one low per-swipe rate for your business. We want our pricing to be simple: no more limits or complicated monthly caps at all. Just one low, flat per-swipe rate for your business.” The company said those enrolled in the program can keep it through the end of January, but the company said it has no plans to bring back the monthly rate plan. Square’s standard rates are 2.75 percent of a transaction where a credit card is swiped and 3.5 percent of manually entered charges, plus a 15-cent fee.

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Before Groupon Came Calling, LivingSocial and Ticket Monster Were Once One Big Happy Family (Video)

November 8, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Ticket Monster’s mascot Yesterday, LivingSocial announced a somewhat surprising buyer for its Korean business Ticket Monster : its main competitor Groupon. The deal, worth $260 million in cash and stock and expected to close early next year, has been well received on Wall Street, with Groupon’s stock rising seven percent this morning despite a sizable revenue miss in the third quarter. For LivingSocial, the sale ends a short two-plus-year marriage with Ticket Monster, which was supposed to serve as its beachhead for a large Asian expansion. In those honeymoon days, just a few months after the acquisition, LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy and Ticket Monster CEO Daniel Shin appeared at AllThingsD ’s 2011 AsiaD conference with high hopes for the future and talked about how each business would benefit from the other. The full interview, moderated by my colleague Ina Fried, is below.

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How Do You Get VCs to Invest in a New Videogame? QuizUp Did It With "Twilight."

November 8, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Apparently, the answer is “red.” The more you know. Pre-launch videogames, generally speaking, are not the best fit for venture capital. Games are notoriously a hits-driven business, and the sheer number of free titles being released every month makes picking the winners an inexact science, at best. Nothing speaks louder than numbers, though, as Silicon Valley outsider Plain Vanilla Games recently learned, with an assist from the “Twilight” movie franchise. Plain Vanilla was founded in 2010 in Iceland and almost went bankrupt in 2011. Once its first app The Moogies fell out of the Apple App Store’s featured section, sales plummeted, according to CEO Thor Fridriksson. Fridriksson and his two co-founders moved to San Francisco for three months on a tourist visa — without any preparation — and “naively expected people to throw money at us,” he said. After a series of rejections, the company secured $1.2 million in angel investment from Tencent, Sequoia Capital’s “ scout fund ,” Unity Technologies founder David Helgason and Riot Games cofounder Brandon Beck. But the turning point for the studio, as Fridriksson characterized it, was going to Los Angeles — again, without knowing anyone there — and partnering with Lions Gate Entertainment to develop a trivia game based on Twilight (“Which is this vampire teenager thing,” he pre-emptively explained to me). The numbers and feedback from Twilight QuizUp were “off the charts,” Fridriksson said, and strong enough to raise a $2.5 million Series A, mostly from Greycroft Partners and Tencent. Targeting a passionate niche helped Plain Vanilla make the case to investors that a social trivia game could work. After testing a few more niche QuizUp games (some of which have now been removed from the U.S.

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Sold Is Sold to Dropbox (Yes, I Just Wrote That)

November 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Dropbox today has bought e-commerce middleman for consumers Sold, according to a post on Sold’s site . The service will no longer be accepting items, the Boston-based startup said. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Sold had only had a small round of seed funding from Google Ventures and Greylock Partners, among others.

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Wedding-Focused Portal Adds E-Commerce Vet Bob Schwartz as Chairman

November 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments, a startup that bills itself as a search engine for wedding inspiration, has added longtime e-commerce exec Bob Schwartz as chairman. Schwartz was previously president of Magento, the e-commerce platform acquired by eBay , as well as the first general manager of

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Google Launches Helpouts, A Live Video Tutorial Service

November 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Is this the end for Hints from Heloise ? No, the nationally syndicated household hints column is still up and running. But I imagine after Tuesday, it’ll have a bit more competition. That’s because Google launched its Helpouts service this week, the company’s initiative that aims to bring live video tutorials, instructions and services to users via the company’s streaming video platform, “Hangouts.” Think of it as an on-demand video marketplace for how-to miscellany, a way to receive walkthroughs on concepts as simple as spackling a hole in your drywall from a company like, or how to make the perfect turkey stuffing for Thanksgiving dinner. “If you look at live video today on the web, it kind of reminds me of the beginning of the web back in the ’90s, with its low-resolution images and video” VP of engineering Udi Manber told reporters at an event on Monday. “Helpouts look so good, you feel like you’re already there.” The concept is clean and simple; you have a query on how to accomplish some sort of task, and search through one of Google’s initial 1000-plus launch partners for help. Helpouts will offer up a list of its participants that can help you, which you’ll be able to choose from based on their relevance, qualifications (vetted by Google), and their overall batting average (vetted by users with feedback reviews). Pick your partner, and ideally you’ll be guided through your task via the live video feed, streamed to either desktops or Android mobile devices via a new app. After the session, you’ll pay with your connected Google Wallet account based either on a flat fee or a per-minute rate, chosen before you start the call. Google takes a 20 percent cut, with the rest going to the service provider. “People said that shopping will not happen on the Web at a large scale — those people were wrong,” Manber said. “We expect and hope to bring that level of efficiency to services as well. “One reason the web is so powerful is that it brings with it a completely new level of efficiency and convenience,” he said. It’s easy to pick holes in Google’s Helpouts pitch right off the bat. Though the company assures it vets all of its partners and instructor participants, that’s hardly a scalable solution over time — the tackling of which Manber wouldn’t elaborate upon. And you’re basically required to be locked into the Googleverse to use Helpouts; the service requires you have a Google+ account and, for now, an active Google Wallet account. Not to mention that millions of instructional videos exist on another property Google already owns: YouTube. Despite all this, methinks that Google’s ambitions are far broader than merely teaching Web-savvy consumers how to keep their hollandaise sauce from breaking. Manber alluded to an eventual accessible API for third-party developers, who could then program their own apps to work with the service. And when asked, he said he “absolutely” envisioned an offline component to the service, though he declined to elaborate further.

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Tech Veteran Katie Mitic Joins Restoration Hardware Board

October 31, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Katie Mitic, a veteran of Facebook, Yahoo and Palm who is now CEO of Three Koi Labs, is joining Restoration Hardware’s board of directors , the company announced today. Mitic, who also serves on eBay’s board of directors, joins Restoration Hardware several years into a turnaround effort that has seen it rebrand as RH and move its focus toward higher-end furnishings.

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First Data Acquires Cardless Customer Loyalty Startup Perka

October 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Global payments and e-commerce solutions giant First Data said it has bought Perka, the cardless loyalty mobile app and program. Perka — based in both New York City and Portland, Ore. — will operate as an autonomous subsidiary of the Atlanta-based First Data and will be run led by its current execs and product development team. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But sources said that the price was slightly lower than First Data’s purchase of mobile payments startup Clover last year for a total consideration of $54.1 million. After operating in stealth, Perka launched in 2011 with a small amount of funding. It is part of an overall trend toward using mobile devices and location-based apps for customer loyalty programs. In the past, this has largely been done by small to medium-sized merchants using paper punch cards and collecting very little usable data about regular customers. To help that, Perka offers a Perka Punchcard service and Perka Flexpoints, using a cloud-hosted platform to allow local retailers to track consumers more easily and offer them deals, as well as give them rewards for loyalty. Competitors include Belly and Swipely, bit there are many others attacking the space in a different way. “The loyalty industry is quickly changing with the advent of mobile everywhere, from being proprietary and closed to open,” said Perka CEO Alan Chung about the deal. “We saw a real synergy with First Data and of their vision going forward in which loyalty is a critical component as a tool of local merchants.” The startup was co-founded by Chung, along with Rob Coury and Rob Bethge, all of whom have done many previous startups. “I think it is a simple story on the why we bought Perka, since First Data wants to offer more new merchant solutions than just a point-of-sale device,” said Guy Chiarello, First Data president. “To do so, we have to embrace these entrepreneurial communities to create our services in a much quicker time frame.”

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Amazon Builds the Spheres, While Google Opts for the Hulk

October 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As with Apple, Facebook, Samsung and many other tech companies, Amazon and Google are in the analog building business of late. According to the Seattle Times , the e-commerce giant had its plan for a “five-story office building formed by three intersecting spheres” unanimously thumbs-upped by that city’s design-review board. There are still other approvals to go, as well as building permits, for the structure in downtown Seattle by architect NBBJ, part of a larger 3.3 million square-foot campus. Noted the Times: “The spheres still would range in height from 80 feet to 95 feet and feature a mix of flex work space and an atrium of plants and trees. The area between the spheres and a 38-story office tower would still include a dog park, a walkway and an open field.” Perhaps more intriguingly, Google is apparently working on a floating data center that CNET is describing as “hulking.” Wrote CNET: “It’s unclear what’s inside the structure, which stands about four stories high and was made with a series of modern cargo containers … One expert who was shown pictures of the structure thinks so, especially because being on a barge provides easy access to a source of cooling, as well as an inexpensive source of power — the sea. And even more tellingly, Google was granted a patent in 2009 for a floating data center, and putting data centers inside shipping containers is already a well-established practice.” And, of course, since it’s Google, it’s hiding in plain site in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Google also has a big HQ project going with NBBJ , which is also the architect behind the new Samsung North America campus in Silicon Valley and Tencent’s new digs in China. Facebook, too, has ambitious plans to expand its campus. And, of course, Apple has already got the go-ahead for its Apple Campus 2 project , a 2.8-million-square-foot structure of curved glass, concrete and steel nicknamed the “Spaceship.” (Image of Amazon offices rendering courtesy of NBBJ.)

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IPO-Bound Zulily Surpasses $400 Million in 2013 Revenue, New Filing Shows

October 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Zulily , the IPO-bound discount e-commerce site targeted at moms, recorded revenue of $439 million in the first nine months of this year for 116 percent growth year over year, an amended S-1 filing shows. But its net income dropped from $2.4 million in the first six months of the year to just $200,000 through the first nine months. Zulily also signed a letter of intent on a new $50 million revolving credit line, according to the document.

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