Living Social Chief Executive Tim O'Shaughnessy faces a big question: is he preparing to bring his daily deals company public? I sat down with him at Fortune's Brainstorm:Tech conference.
Though he wouldn't give any clarity on timing of an IPO, he did shed some light on how he plans to distinguish himself from Groupon, to both investors and consumers. And that's an increasingly important task, considering the fact that Groupon's stock has been pummeled, down over 60 percent year-to-date. Did Facebook's disappointing stock movement since its IPO impact his perspective on going public? He says no.
O'Shaughnessy stressed that LivingSocial is more than just a daily deals service. Today it launched "LivingSocial Shop," offering product sales. It comes with Groupon Goods, as well as flash sale sites like Gilt Group and One King's Lane. But LivingSocial will curate its offers for consumers based on all the information it knows about them, based in turn on their purchase history.
In order to compete with larger rivals like Groupon, O'Shaughnessy wants LivingSocial to offer services that Groupon can't compete with — unique experiences that can't be replicated. The company has been investing in creating unique experiences that aren't discounted "deals" — they're packages, like concerts (the company just signed a deal with AEG), or tickets to sporting events packaged with a car service or other extras.
The company is also making a big push to be the main destination for live events. A live-events tab, customized for different cities, offers information about what's happening in users area, beyond just events that LivingSocial is offering access to. Near LivingSocial's headquarters in D.C., the company has an event space for hosting special events like "Sumo, Sake and Sushi," and it put together an event with food trucks and craft beer.
In just a few months since its launch, the events space is already generating about 10 percent of LivingSocial's D.C. revenue. With that kind of traction, we can likely expect more offerings that bring LivingSocial beyond deal-a-day discounts, in other cities.
— By CNBC's Julia Boorstin
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