LivingSocial: Don’t call it a deals business

Jul 20, 2011

By Dan Primack, senior editor

To many consumers, LivingSocial is Groupon with better writing. Interchangeable, and possibly disposable if someone begins offering deeper discounts for more attractive merchants.

To LivingSocial, however, a lot of people are missing the deeper point.

"If you view this as a daily deals business, you've probably lost already," said company CEO Tim O'Shaughnessy, during a panel discussions Wednesday at Fortune Brainstorm Tech. "We view this as local commerce."

Specifically, O'Shaughnessy argued that what companies like his are doing is positioning themselves as technology providers that better foster relationships between consumers and merchants. That may be daily deals via email today, but could be something much different tomorrow.

"There are a lot of technologies involved in consumer/merchant relationships... and all of them will be disrupted," he argued, using point-of-sales systems as an example.

O'Shaughnessy declined to discuss LivingSocial's rumored IPO plans, but did reveal that the company currently is in 21 different countries with around 2,500 employees (around 1,300 of whom are in sales and marketing). He also took a couple of jabs at the competition, noting that Groupon's instant deals and travel offers had come after LivingSocial had launched similar programs. "I'm merely stating two data-points," he said, while in the same breath referring to the Groupon offerings as "clones."

[cnnmoney-iframe src=]

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. FORTUNE may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.

Quotes delayed at least 15 minutes. Market data provided by Interactive Data. ETF and Mutual Fund data provided by Morningstar, Inc. Dow Jones Terms & Conditions: S&P Index data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. Powered and implemented by Interactive Data Managed Solutions