Facebook kills physical Gifts in favor of digital redemption codes


Facebook kills physical Gifts in favor of ecodes, pokes sigh in relief

Not even a year after its inception, Facebook is killing physical Gifts. According to TechCrunch, the social media giant is ending its intermediary role for sending teddy bears, wine and chocolate (sounds romantic, no?) from its partners. Instead, it’s focusing on its own gift card, as well as redemption codes for iTunes credits and the like. Why? Well, aside from the cash the company will save, users simply weren’t buying physical Gifts all that much. The new Gift page will begin rolling out to ten percent of the site’s US userbase over the weekend, and the entire stateside population should see it within two weeks. It’s a little less personal, sure, but at least you won’t have to worry about getting your loved ones gift receipts.


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Sunday, August 25th, 2013 news No Comments

At, These Crafty Germans Are Using Data To Reinvent Venture Capital


Tom Gieselmann,

BV Capital is relaunching tonight as, a network of five connected global funds.

We wouldn’t write about the renaming of a venture-capital firm normally—except that has such a rich and fascinating history, one that we covered from its inception in 1998. And we’re taken with the data-driven approach that one of its partners, Tom Gieselmann, is spearheading. began life 14 years ago as Bertelsmann Ventures, a venture-capital arm of the German media company. Jan Henric Buettner, Andreas von Blottnitz, and Gieselmann worked together at AOL Europe, a joint venture of Bertelsmann and AOL; another partner, Mathias Schilling, worked at Bertelsmann as well. They set up shop in the unlikely locale of Santa Barbara, Calif.

In 2000, they took a step towards independence from Bertelsmann and raised a fund as BV Capital. Then things really soured, as Buettner and von Blottnitz sued for a share of the profits from the sale of AOL Europe to AOL. They won hundreds of millions of dollars. (Along the way, BV moved to San Francisco—well ahead of the recent wave of venture capitalists opening up offices in the city.) They had some successes with Onelist, which merged with eGroups and got sold to Yahoo, and GoToMyPC, acquired by Citrix.

The years of the dotcom bust were tough, but they hung in there, raised another fund, and expanded their investments from the US and Europe to Russia, China, and Brazil. Recent hits include Angie’s List and Groupon, which went public last year, and Sonos, where sold shares in the company’s most recent financing round. (As part of the deal, longtime BV partner von Blottnitz is leaving the Sonos board, and he’s not joining in the firm’s latest incarnation.)

So what’s next?

Over the past two years, Gieselmann told us he’s been working on a dashboard driven by data like Web traffic to spot promising startups.

Like the data he uses, Gieselmann’s dashboard is publicly available. Buettner and Schilling have asked Gieselmann why he doesn’t make the site private, but he argues that the advantage they derive from it isn’t based on the data, which anyone could download and crunch in similar manner, but their analysis.

On Gieselmann’s site, we discovered a couple of startups we hadn’t previously been tracking: Flipora, a website discovery engine, and ShopClues, an Indian e-commerce site.

That data-driven approach, Gieselmann said, takes him and his partners back to their AOL days, when they crunched numbers to figure out the best ways to market dial-up Internet service to European customers.

Sometimes experience pays off.

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Monday, July 16th, 2012 news No Comments

Groupon, “the end is nigh”

It’s hard to believe that another company could outdo Mercata’s spectacular $100 million flameout in 2000 in the first dot com bubble crash. But Groupon is about to do just that – by being bigger, badder, and even more spectacular. It raised $1 BILLION and will flame out before the year is out (my prediction from January 2011: Prediction: Groupon is/will be the biggest pump-and-dump scheme of all time (or in recent memory) )

Despite the recent reports of Facebook shuttering its daily deals offering, Yelp scaling back its service, and Groupon “not paying much attention” to it, I believe it is not so much that they could not compete with Groupon but that the market was smaller than previously expected and that it had mostly been tapped out already. If most merchants say they will not do another Groupon like campaign again and when revenue per merchant in mature markets like Boston are off by 60% in the space of a year, those trends don’t bode well for Groupon or any daily deal site.

I have not always been bearish about Groupon and I think they did 2 things brilliantly that helped it break through where previous group buying and deal sites could not: 1) leveraged social media and people sharing with others – a deal does not become activated unless the minimum number of people buy it (so friends will share with exactly those friends who they know will also like the deal); and 2) there was a deadline to buy the deal once it was activated; if you’ve ever missed buying a deal you will try not to miss another one. This triggers the desired action.  These are the 2 positives that should be replicated going forward.

But all the other bad things and screwups (since Groupon’s inception) should be avoided :-).  See below for the chorus and refrains.

Insider Selling took $870 million of the $1 billion off the table for investors and founders.

Andrew Mason fires back at critics via email, but in doing so may have violated “quiet period”

Wired had to pull its IPO in 1996 after a similar “employee email.”

Groupon’s PR boss suddenly quits after 2 months on the job, and just before Mason’s “employee email”

Groupon’s China operations are imploding

Groupon’s traffic tumbles 50% from June to August

Groupon’s revenue per merchant in mature markets like Boston is off more than 60% YoY

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Saturday, September 3rd, 2011 news No Comments

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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