Decide.com announced on Friday that it was being acqu-hired by eBay and would shutter its service at the end of the month.
The entire team of 26 people will now go work for eBay.
Decide.com predicts the prices on electronics and helps people pay less for them. It’s not surprising eBay would want to buy this company. Decide.com had been using eBay’s data to help with its predictions, CEO Mike Fridgen said in a blog post.
But one of the most remarkable things about this deal is that it marks the sixth-in-a-row successful exit for cofounder and CTO Oren Etzioni.
Etzioni helped invent the concept of big data back when the Web was young, way before the term “big data.” We’re talking even before Google.
Etzioni is a computer science professor at the University of Washington (and these days, also a partner at Seattle’s Madrona Venture Group). In between teaching and publishing hundreds of technical papers, he keeps creating valuable tech.
In 1994, four years before Google was born, he created one of the web’s first search engines MetaCrawler, bought by Infospace (and still running today). In 1995, he cofounded the first shopping comparison engine, NetBot, bought by Excite. Then he created ClearForest, which summarizes text documents, bought by Reuters.
In 2003, after he learned that he paid more for an airline ticket than the guy sitting next to him, he created a program that scraped travel sites to predict airfare prices. That became FareCast. It sold to Microsoft in 2008 for $110 million and is now a part of Bing.
In 2011, he took what he learned at FareCast and launched Decide.com to predict electronics prices. It was backed by Madrona (naturally) but also early Google early investor Ram Shriram and Rich Barton (cofounder of! Zillow, Expedia, Glassdoor).
Now, two years later eBay bought Decide.com. Terms weren’t disclosed, but we know that it raised about $17 million including a recent $8 million round in March that included Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen’s VC firm Vulcan Capital.
Given Etzioni’s history we’re willing to make our own prediction. He’ll be back with another successful startup and soon.
Mcommerce to increase its share of total ecommerce retail sales
Mobile devices account for a rapidly growing share of US retail ecommerce sales, and are expected to contribute to strong ecommerce sales growth this holiday season, according to eMarketer’s latest estimates.
eMarketer projects that retail ecommerce holiday sales in the US will rise about 15% again this year, matching last year’s gains. In total, US retail ecommerce sales for the holiday season—defined as November and December—are expected to reach $61.8 billion, up from $53.7 billion last year.
Mcommerce is expected to play an important part in overall digital holiday retail spending. This year, mobile devices will account for a larger-than-expected share of total US retail ecommerce sales, according to the newly revised forecast. eMarketer expects that mobile’s share will reach 16% in 2013, up from our previous prediction of a 15% mcommerce share this year.
The revision comes as data sets from multiple research sources showed mcommerce as a percent of retail ecommerce sales reached record highs earlier this year. In addition, large retailers, such as Best Buy and Home Depot, continue to invest heavily in smartphones and tablets, building out their mobile app and website offerings, and increasing spending on digital advertising in an effort to drive more conversions across devices and compete with companies with strong mobile infrastructure like Amazon and eBay.
In total, eMarketer predicts retail mcommerce sales will reach $41.68 billion this year and by 2017, retail sales made on mobile devices will climb to well over $100 b! illion.
Even without using PII (personally identifiable information) advertisers can track you in “creepy” ways and try to sell you stuff.
The point is whether consumers will revolt at some time in the future and not let advertisers collect anything and everything they want and trample individuals’ privacy at will.
See my related slideshares:
ORIGINAL BLOG POST FROM BUSINESS INSIDER BELOW
“Earlier this week, I decided to buy a fossil.
This was a pretty impetuous decision.
I had never demonstrated any interest in fossil acquisition.
I knew nothing about the market.
The decision to buy a fossil stemmed from some combination of:
- Seeing a guy hawking fossils in Union Square on Sunday
- Going to a dinner party earlier this month at a fossil collector’s home and subsequently thinking the host was outrageously cool.
So Tuesday I started looking into the market.
I decided I wanted a trilobite — for all intents and purposes, a common, early Cambrian cockroach — as it seemed like a good, inexpensive specimen to begin amassing a collection.
After thoroughly checking out the market — Etsy, EBay, a handful of specialty sites — I realized that pricing was pretty confusing and I’d revisit it later.
Then yesterday — one day after the initial search — I start seeing these ads everywhere on Facebook:
That’s Etsy trying to sell me a trilobite, one day after I spent an evening Googling trilobites. Creepy.
But most importantly, we can ascertain a couple of things:
- Facebook knew I went to Etsy
- Facebook knew I wanted a fossil, specifically a Trilobite.
- Facebook somehow coordinated with Etsy to produce a picture of a Trilobite on the ad for Etsy.
Anyway, it was a pretty big wake-up call to the extent that Facebook tracks my activity and hawks it to advertisers.
Also, if anyone knows a reputable fossil salesman feel free to contact me.”
PayPal and eBay are yanking VMware software from some 80,000 servers and replacing it with the free and open-source alternative known as OpenStack, Boris Renski, OpenStack Foundation board member told Business Insider.
Renski is also a cofounder of Mirantis, an OpenStack consultant company backed by Dell and Intel. Mirantis worked with PayPal on the project, he says.
PayPal used a set of tools from Mirantis called Fuel, a PayPal spokesperson told us.
Today Mirantis released Fuel for free to the public. (In geek speak: it was released under the open source Apache 2.0 license). It’s a collection of scripts and software that helps companies deploy OpenStack.
Initially, PayPal is replacing VMware on about 10,000 computer servers. Those servers will go live this summer, Renski said. “The grand vision for project is, over time, they will replace all of their virtual infrastructure with OpenStack, not just PayPal, but PayPal and eBay, together,” Renski said. That’s about 80,000 servers across their data centers, he said.
PayPal has been a big supporter of Open Stack for a while. But this project is still dangerous territory for VMware, as PayPal could become an example of how other enterprise can replace VMware with OpenStack, too.
To be sure, enterprises are not dying to get rid of VMware, even to save money on software license fees. Most of them really love VMware’s software because it’s a reliable way to run lots of different applications on the same! compute r server.
But cloud wars are coming between different so-called “cloud operating” systems: VMware is up against OpenStack (backed by IBM, HP, Rackspace, Red Hat, others) and CloudStack (another open source project, backed by Citrix).
Sophia Amoruso started selling vintage clothing on her eBay page in 2006.
Walmart may be the king of retail in the physical world, but on the internet, it’s still a challenger.
Jeremy King, a Silicon Valley engineer who built key parts of eBay’s infrastructure, joined global retail titan Walmart in the summer of 2011 as CTO of Walmart.com.
Farhad Manjoo interviewed King for his great story on Walmart’s evolution at Fast Company, and the engineer described the “irresistible pitch” that CEO Mike Duke gave him over a videoconference call, luring him into the job.
Duke wanted to become more experimental — and he was making the moves to prove it. From Fast Company:
After years of seeing his company lag online, Duke swore that digital was now a priority for Walmart. Duke had restructured the company, placing e-commerce on equal footing with Walmart’s other, much larger divisions. He had made serious investments in high-tech talent, acquiring several startups. One, a 65-person social media firm called Kosmix with expertise in search and analytics, was the impetus for Walmart rechristening its Valley operations “@WalmartLabs.”
Duke was looking for people who would revive the company’s sites and services, and energize its entire culture. He hoped to turn a company famous for rigid, coldly effective business processes into one that’s flexible, experimental, and entrepreneurial. In other words, Duke wanted to inject a bit of Silicon Valley into Bentonville, Arkansas. In the summer of 2011, King signed up as CTO of Walmart.com. “We’ve hired hundreds of incredibly talented peop! le, in S ilicon Valley and around the world,” says Duke of his aggressive moves. “We are playing to win.”
King now heads @WalmartLabs — the company’s skunkworks. He has been tasked with bringing Walmart into the rapidly morphing world of e-commerce. That means reinventing the shopping experience — both in-store and online — and facilitating Walmart’s digital transformation.
And, judging by Duke’s pitch, it looks like he has his CEO’s full support.
There’s another startup worth a billion dollars.
Specifically, Jordan praised Zulily for finding a niche where it could successfully compete with Amazon.com, by carrying goods from lesser-known designers who lacked broad distribution.
Zulily also broadened from carrying children’s apparel typically bought by moms to offering women’s apparel and housewares of interest to that customer base. It has attracted 10 million shoppers to date.
A year ago, Zulily raised $43 million in a deal that valued the company at $750 million. The company didn’t disclose its valuation in this round, but Fortune’s Dan Primack says his sources tell him the company’s now valued at $1 billion.
Don’t ! miss: 11 Startups Worth A Billion Dollars >
Called eBay Lifestyle Deals, the offers are being run in a limited number of urban areas, including the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
Recent deals included $12 for a one-hour dog-walking service worth $25; $50 for a month of Yoga classes worth $110; and $180 for six private gym sessions worth $360.
The move is potentially a big step for eBay, which has traditionally focused on products rather than services.
“We have a big marketplace and a lot of people who come to eBay don’t just come for one thing – they stay and buy across categories,” said Devin Wenig, president of eBay Marketplaces.
“It makes perfect sense to experiment with new categories, and services is one of these things. We’re seeing whether deals and services are attractive to our customers.”
EBay has teamed up with start-up Signpost, which arranges the deals with local merchants and posts them on a new section of eBay’s online marketplace, www.ebay.com/exp/lifestyle-deals.
EBay plans to add more daily deal providers if the effort goes well.
“Signpost is a merchant, just like merchants selling physical goods on eBay,” Wenig said. “A merchant may sell local or even global servi! ces on e Bay in the future.”
BIA/Kelsey, which tracks the local media industry, expects U.S. consumer spending for online deals to reach $5.5 billion by 2016, up from $1.8 billion last year. That includes daily deals, and other discounted online sales channels, such as product deals and flash sales.
Groupon Chief Executive Andrew Mason has estimated the total local-commerce market is worth $3 trillion.
EBay has run daily deals on physical products for about two years, but this is its first foray into discounted services in the United States.
Groupon started the daily deal craze in late 2008 and quickly grew into a company with thousands of employees and well over $1 billion in annual revenue.
That growth attracted a lot of deep-pocketed rivals, such as Google Inc, Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc . However, growth has slowed recently as consumers tired of endless deals from multiple providers. Facebook shelved its first effort in the market last year.
Groupon shares have lost about three-quarters of their value since the company went public last year.
However, Google and Amazon have stuck with their daily deal businesses.
EBay shares rose 0.5 percent to $46.45 on Nasdaq at midday. (Reporting by Alistair Barr; Additional reporting by Phil Wahba in New York; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)
Copyright (2012) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions
In May, Facebook spent $80 million on one of its largest acquisitions yet, Karma.
Karma was a gift buying startup that used Facebook to alert you of major upcoming dates in your friends’ lives (birthdays, weddings, graduations, etc).
Today, Facebook’s use for Karma was made clear as it dove head-first into e-commerce with a new feature, “Gifts.”
With Gifts, you can buy a friend everything from a bottle of champagne to a pair of glasses, while Facebook takes a percent of all sales.
It’s available in a few US cities beginning today on Facebook’s website and Android devices; it will roll out on iOS later. Gifts will either be physically sent or come in the form of gift cards to giftees. Some gifts, like Uber rides, can be redeemed instantly on the giftee’s phone.
Gift cards are a $100 billion industry and Facebook knows its up against steep competition from the likes of Amazon and eBay. “Our goal is to make this the best way to send a gift,” Karma’s co-founder Lee Linden tells TechCrunch. And once Facebook has all of our credit card information and addresses, it will be even more powerful. We already login to tons of other sites via Facebook, would it really be such a big stretch to pay on them with Facebook too? It’d be a lot easier than whipping out a credit card every time.
Here’s a picture of what Facebook Gifts look like (click to expand):
Today in a post on his personal blog, Google developer Tim Bray wrote elliptically of a project he’s working on that could—if he means what I think he means—radically change our experience of using the Internet—for the better.
“Logging in is annoying and slows you down. My job these days is mostly about reducing that pain, ideally to zero by eliminating it. Google really wants this to happen.”
Logging in is annoying. Between your various online banking passwords and user names, Amazon, eBay, every social network you belong to, Netflix, however many accounts you have with online retailers like ShopBop or Sephora or Petco or where ever—it can be a sort of nightmare trying to keep track of all your passwords and user names.
Sure, it isn’t sooo bad, now that more sites will ask if you’d like have them remember your password for future visits. But still.
What an Internet free of log-ins would look like, exactly, it’s difficult to imagine. Just how literally does Google want to execute this plan? At this point, it’s all speculation off an early-stage project. But if Bray’s post is any indication of where Google is in fact headed, we certainly have something to look forward to. [BGR]
Dr. Augustine Fou is Digital Consigliere to marketing executives, advising them on digital strategy and Unified Marketing(tm). Dr Fou has over 17 years of in-the-trenches, hands-on experience, which enables him to provide objective, in-depth assessments of their current marketing programs and recommendations for improving business impact and ROI using digital insights.
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