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LivingSocial and for that matter Groupon were once ‘next big things’. They raised a lot of money, burned a lot of cash, and built of mailing lists of people who don’t like to pay retail. This week Living Social laid off about half of its workforce. Over the paid 18 months they’ve shed better than three-fourths of their employees.
Businesses dependent on liquidating others’ unused inventory always seem like a great idea. At one point Priceline’s business was selling opaque airfare. At one point years ago they were going to revolutionize travel — and everything else. They were going to be the platform to liquidate excess unsold inventory well beyond room nights and into gas and home mortgage lending. Fifteen years ago the most valuable thing Delta owned was shares in Priceline — the company liquidating unsold airline inventory was worth more than the carrier that actually had that inventory.
Priceline took their big valuations and acquired other businesses — like Kayak and Booking.com and OpenTable.
LivingSocial and Groupon struggled. Amazon shut down their competing deals product.
LivingSocial has a new vision, though:
Thakar’s new vision for LivingSocial would let users get discounts by linking their credit card with their LivingSocial account and using it at participating stores.
That sounds a lot like Plink Rewards which didn’t do so well.
One variant of tracking your purchases and offering you rebates is already underway. Via Heels First Travel Living Social Restaurant Plus will give you up to a 30% rebate when you spend at specific restaurants at certain times.
And they’re still spending other peoples money to get a business going: They will give you a 100% rebate on your first qualifying meal up to $20 when you sign up. (You have 30 days from signup to take advantage of the offer.)
So far rebates are available in:
- Los Angeles
- San Diego
- San Francisco
- Washington, D.C.
Sign up, then link a credit card. Search restuarants by time and you’ll see both a list and a map of offers.
The great thing is you don’t make a booking through them, you just pay for meals as usual and the process should be automatic.
So I would treat this as something to sign up for, set, and forget — and if I happen to visit a restaurant with a rebate, that’s money I’d otherwise be leaving on the table. Once you accumulate $10 in your account you can cash out.
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