LOSS

1,000 Jobs Gone At Groupon And LivingSocial; Can The Daily Deal Sector Turn It Around? (GRPN)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/layoffs-at-groupon-and-livingsocial-2012-11

Daily deals title image lifehackerThe daily deal world is in turmoil.

LivingSocial just announced the firing of 400 employees, which is about 8.9% of its total workforce.

What’s more unnerving is that over the past six months, Groupon reduced its workforce by 648 positions.

More than 1,000 reductions across both businesses is a huge deal. Those reductions aren’t all layoffs; some are through attrition.

To cap it all, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s job was in question all week, and he only received his board of directors’ seal of approval late Thursday.

If this was happening at Facebook or Twitter — or any other major tech brand — people would be freaking out.

So why isn’t anyone freaking out yet?

Arguably, this is a recession in the daily deal business.

It’s the industry’s first, given that it didn’t exist until about four years ago.

LivingSocial told Business Insider via email about the job cuts. “After two years of hyper-growth from 450 to more than 4500 employees, these moves will align our cost structure against our 2013 plans and will help us set the company on a path for long-term growth and profitability. Specifically, they will allow us to invest more in critical pr! iorities like marketing, mobile, and the hiring of additional technology staff.”

LivingSocial told CNNMoney that it is moving much of its customer service from its headquarters in D.C. to Tuscon, “so some job openings will be available in that area.” Sales and editorial, however, have simply been “streamlined.”

The job losses reflect the shaky economic underpinnings of the daily deal business, which Groupon and LivingSocial have yet to wrestle into control.

LivingSocial posted a net loss of $566 million in Q3 2012. $496 million of LivingSocial’s loss stems from a huge writedown of some of its acquisitions from 2011, the Washington Business Journal reports. LivingSocial’s revenue also fell to $124 million in the three-month period, down from $138 million in the second quarter.

As of market close today, Groupon’s stock price is currently sitting at $4.54, according to Yahoo Finance. The 52-week range is shocking: it reached a high of $25.84. That followed six months’ of shrinking total billings at the company. (Its American business is robust; the international arm less so.)

A Groupon spokesperson tells us that its layoffs were largely due to new technology the company invested in that made those jobs irrelevant. In fact, we’re told, Groupon has 200 job vacancies open across North America right now.

And, of course, the job cuts don’t mean that Groupon and LivingSocial are going to vanish tomorrow. They’re huge businesses after all. But they are cause for concern as they illuminate potential weaknesses in the daily deal ! business model.

The main problem is operational scale.

Both companies are dependent on large salesforces. It is very difficult for them to leverage operation scale: To sell more, they need to employ more people. Groupon historically has prided itself on the long-term relationships its salesforce builds with its merchants. They have struggled to leverage self-serve, turnkey sales the way Facebook has.

In fact, Groupon and LivingSocial aren’t even tech companies. Rather, they’re email companies. Although email is here to stay for a long time, the tidal shift among consumers is away from email to instant messaging, social media messaging, and mobile phone messaging. They need to pivot into alternate methods.

Groupon is trying just that, with Groupon Goods, which so far has been a success. And both companies need to do what Groupon says it is trying to do, which is replace human-to-human selling with tech that can increase each individual worker’s selling power.

Lastly, the downturn ask whether the daily deal business has hit one of its natural ceilings: new merchants. Both companies need a fresh supply of new merchants to offer more deals, or to re-up on repeated deals. It’s an open question that both Groupon and LivingSocial now have to prove: Is there enough new merchants or incremental repeat business from merchants for the sector to continue to grow?

A thousand-plus layoffs suggest that, for now, the question lacks a satisfying answer.

Don’t Miss: Groupon CEO Andrew Mason Keeps His Job!

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Friday, November 30th, 2012 news No Comments

JC Penney Shares Are Collapsing After A Dismal Earnings Report

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/jcp-shares-fall-after-earnings-2012-11

JC Penney

Shares of JC Penney are tanking over 11.5% this morning after the retailer reported earnings.

Revenue of $2.9 billion is way below estimates of $3.2 billion.

EPS of $-0.93 per share is well worse than the loss of seven cents that were expected.

And same-store sales are down 26.1%

CEO Ron Johnson offers up:

Ron Johnson, chief executive officer of jcpenney said, “While the quarter overall was challenging, the performance of jcp’s new brands and shops reinforces our conviction to transform jcpenney into a specialty department store.  Today, jcp is really a tale of two companies.  By far the largest part of our store is the old jcpenney, which continues to struggle and experience significant challenges as evidenced by our third quarter results.  However, the new jcp, centered around the shop concept, is gaining traction with customers every day and is surpassing our own expectations in terms of sales productivity which continues to give us confidence in our long term business model.”

Full report is here >

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Friday, November 9th, 2012 news No Comments

Amazon Somehow Lost $274 Million Selling $13.8 Billion Worth of Stuff

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5954990/amazon-manages-to-lose-274-million-while-selling-138-billion-worth-of-stuff

Amazon Somehow Lost $274 Million Selling $13.8 Billion Worth of StuffIf you thought Amazon’s prices seemed too good to be true, well, it turns out they might be—for Amazon, at least. The company managed to turn $13.8 billion of revenue into a $274 million loss this past quarter. And while a big chunk of that was due to losses at LivingSocial and foreign-exchange rates, all is clearly not well on Mount Bezos.

Amazon remained silent on just how many Kindle devices it has sold, but reiterated that it doesn’t make any money off of the ones that it has. Said CEO and probably Superman villain Jeff Bezos:

“Our approach is to work hard to charge less. Sell devices near breakeven and you can pack a lot of sophisticated hardware into a very low price point… And our approach is working—the $199 Kindle Fire HD is the #1 bestselling product across Amazon worldwide. Incredibly, this is true even as measured by unit sales.”

The approach may be working in terms of moving units, but that clearly has been translating into less and less profit. But hey, that just means you’re getting every bit the bargain you thought you were.

The biggest killer appears to be that LivingSocial investment; while Amazon doesn’t own the daily deals company outright, it has a major stake in its flailing business. One that amounted to a $169 million hit against its bottom line these last three months alone.

Amazon’s going to be holding a call at 5PM EDT to discuss what happened in more detail; we’ll be updating as necessary. For now, though, clearly Amazon looks like a ship that needs righting. Or maybe it just needs to throw off some of that LivingSocial ballast. [Businesswire]

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Friday, October 26th, 2012 news No Comments

Facebook posts $59 million net loss in fiscal Q3, touts 1.01 billion active users

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/10/23/facebook-posts-59-million-loss-in-fiscal-q3/

Facebook Mark Zuckerberg

The bloom is slightly off the rose for Facebook. After a banner first post-IPO quarter, it’s recording a net loss in its fiscal third quarter of $59 million despite its revenue climbing to $1.26 billion — a big swing that the company is blaming on payroll tax tweaks and income taxes, which becomes clearer when you learn that the company posted a $311 million profit before factoring in standard accounting practices. Facebook hasn’t said exactly what had the biggest impact, although its closing the Instagram deal wouldn’t have helped matters. Still, the company isn’t glum about its prospects: following an earlier mention of the milestone by founder Mark Zuckerberg, the earnings report touts that there are over 1.01 billion active Facebook users who check in at least once a month, over 604 million of which were mobile. Between a reworked iOS app, a freshened Facebook Messenger and new ad-friendly SDKs, the social network is bracing for a potential bonanza ahead.

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Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012 news No Comments

Retail Guru Walter Loeb Says JCPenney Is ‘Sliding Further Into Oblivion’ (JCP)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/walter-loeb-jcpenney-2012-10

black hole

Walter Loeb, a retail consultant and former senior retail analyst at Morgan Stanley, is very worried about JCPenney.

Loeb writes in a column at Forbes entitled “JCPenney slides Further into Oblivion” that he visited the JCPenney store in the Manhattan Mall to see things firsthand.

While he liked the aesthetic changes put in place by CEO Ron Johnson, he was depressed by the lack of customers.

He believes that there are “few reasons for customers to return unless they are given some unusual incentives.” After all, the construction of the new shops is going to take a while, and stores will remain disrupted throughout.

Here’s his bottom line. From Forbes:

My initial hope was that sales would level off in 2013; I now feel that at the end of fiscal 2013 the company may only have sales of $12 Billion, a loss of $5 Billion from the high point of fiscal 2011. It will however be a different store with good opportunity for growth once the whole transformation is completed. It should appeal to a more aspirational shopper.

My conclusion is that the company is becoming irrelevant to investors and a liability for manufacturers since they will have to justify discount prices to other customers unless J.C.Penney carries old styles or exclusive models. Right now the company has been driving away its core customers but has yet to capture a new one as the decline in revenues clearly demonstrates.

NOW SEE: www.businessinsider.com/huge-photos-of-jcpenneys-brand-new-concept-shops-2012-7“>Huge Photos Of JCPenney’s New Concept Shops >

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Thursday, October 4th, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5943574/samsung-throws-down-the-gauntlet-with-fiery-new-iphone-5-vs-galaxy-s-iii-ad

Samsung Throws Down the Gauntlet with Its New iPhone-Bashing Ad Not too long ago, Samsung faced a big loss against Apple in court, and now, it’s just sat through the announcement of the new iPhone, which sold out its preorders in a matter of hours. What’s a rival manufacturer to do? That’s easy; if you’re Samsung, you attack.

Samsung has crafted a pretty aggressive ad comparing Apple’s flagship iPhone 5 to its own Galaxy S III. You can guess who comes out on top. While the lion’s share of the ad’s criticisms are fair—the S III does have NFC while the iPhone 5 doesn’t, and the same goes for removable battery and microSD storage—the bit referring to Apple’s new connector comes off as a bit snide. But you didn’t expect this to be civil, did you?

Adorned with the clever (admit it, it’s clever) tagline “It doesn’t take a genius,” the ad is due to roll out a bunch of newspapers tomorrow, where it will doubtlessly reach the sort of people who still read newspapers. Clearly Samsung isn’t about to take anything lying down, and who could blame them? The question is, will it work? [CNET]

Samsung Throws Down the Gauntlet with Its New iPhone-Bashing Ad

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Sunday, September 16th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Here’s How Much Money The New York Times Was Losing On About.com (NYT)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/heres-how-much-money-the-new-york-times-was-losing-on-aboutcom-2012-8

new york times building, new york times, nyt building, nyt, night shot, nyc, sept 2011, business insider, dng

IAC has agreed to buy About.com from the New York Times for $300 million in cash, according to Bloomberg, and no wonder—the encyclopedia site was losing barrowloads of cash.

But the sale won’t fix NYT’s overall digital problems—it’s still seeing declining digital revenues, which mostly come from selling ads.

NYT bought About for $410 million in 2005, in one of those great, doomed attempts to move a newspaper brand into the digital age.

Here are About’s most recent top and bottom lines, according to Bloomberg, almost all of which come from ad sales:

The website’s revenue fell 8.7 percent to $25.4 million last quarter, and it posted an operating loss of $186.8 million

IAC boss Barry Diller will combine About with Ask.com. Hopefully, he has a plan to fix About’s pitiful revenue side.

Meanwhile, here’s the picture at the Times before the sale, per the most recent 10-Q:

Digital advertising revenues decreased 4.0% and 7.2% in the second quarter and first six months of 2012, respectively.

That portends more structural changes at the paper in the near future.

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Monday, August 27th, 2012 news No Comments

Textbooks

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/kno-starts-renting-k-12-e-textbooks-2012-8

Osman Rashid

Kno is launching its first e-textbooks for the K-12 market tonight.

Here’s the thing: It’s entering a market that doesn’t really exist. Most public schools issue textbooks to students. Why pay for something you get for free?

Here’s why Kno CEO Osman Rashid think he can get parents to pay $9.99 a year to rent textbooks: backpacks, he told us.

It’s well-documented that schoolkids are suffering back pain from schlepping around all their textbooks.

So Rashid’s pitch: Rent a digital version of the same textbook your kids use at school so they don’t have to carry it home.

Kno’s textbooks run on iPad, Android, and Windows 7 devices, as well as the Web. It faces competition from Amazon and Apple—though Rashid makes a compelling argument why Apple won’t dominate the e-textbook market.

It’s not clear that this is a moneymaking move for Kno. It’s partnering with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the titles. Rashid wouldn’t disclose financial details of the arrangement, but conceded that Kno sometimes offers e-textbooks at a loss.

Instead, he’s aiming for grassroots adoption of Kno’s digital textbooks by parents, in the hopes that they’ll become ubiquitous enough in classrooms to spur slow-moving school bureaucracies into striking deals with Kno.

It’s a strategy akin to what startups like www.businessinsider.com/blackboard/yammer“>Yammer do in enterprise software. Call it the consumerization of education.

Rashid’s not relying entirely on the bottoms-up approach. Kno is also partnering with ClassBook.com, a New York-based company which sets up online bookstores for school systems to sell digital textbooks to schools.

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Tuesday, August 7th, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Microsoft’s Online Business Is Just Awful (MSFT)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/chart-of-the-day-microsofts-online-operating-income-2012-7

There is a slight wrinkle to this quarter’s edition of the Microsoft online money pit chart.

The company took a $6.2 billion writedown from its failed aQuantive acquisition, which means we get an even more ridiculous looking than usual chart.

If you back out the writedown, Microsoft had an operating loss of $472 million. One quarter Microsoft is going to get this turned around. We can’t wait.

Other than the online division, the company is doing very well. It beat on EPS, and just barely missed on revenue.

chart of the day, microsoft online operating income, july 2012

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Friday, July 20th, 2012 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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