LivingSocial Lays Off 280 in Shift From Daily Deals

The company is investing in a new, card-linked product as it evolves from its money-losing, voucher-based model.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 16, 2016

LivingSocial said Wednesday it would cut half of its workforce as it shifts away from its money-losing daily deals business toward card-linked products.

The company is laying off 160 employees at both its Washington, D.C. headquarters and remote locations, and over the next two months will shutter its call center in Tucson and lay off another 120 staffers.

Call center operations will be outsourced to an unnamed U.S.-based service provider.

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“LivingSocial is evolving from a multi-category, multi-country voucher-based business to a North America-based marketplace focused on experiential categories,” LivingSocial’s president and chief executive Gautam Thakar said in a press release.

LivingSocial has been testing Restaurants Plus, a card-linked solution that allows customers to get discounts at participating restaurants by paying for a meal with a credit card they have registered with LivingSocial.

The product is being tested in three cities and, according to Thakar, the company has signed up three times the number of restaurants in those cities for the new offering as it had for its traditional voucher business.

“Early customer adoption of our card-linked product has encouraged us to shift future investment from our voucher business,” Thakar said.

LivingSocial has now cut nearly 900 jobs over three rounds of layoffs since Thakar took over for founder Tim O’Shaughnessy 18 months ago. He told the Washington Business Journal the latest cuts were necessary to give the company a chance of surviving until it can expand the products it sees as its future while phasing out the daily deals portion of the business.

“Not doing this would have put LivingSocial more in question than doing this,” he said. “It has been tougher to get here than I would have liked it to be, there is no doubt about that.”

LivingSocial has raised more than $934 million to date but has not brought in any new funds since February 2013. Its main rival Groupon earlier this week announced a revamped platform that includes a new iPad app to help retailers create, market and redeem daily deals.