November 10, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Japanese ecommerce solution giant Rakuten will be acquiring the Canadian ereading service Kobo from majority shareholder and founder of the service Indigo.
Indigo is Canada’s largest book retailer and founded Kobo in 2009 to compete with Amazon’s and Barnes & Noble’s ereaders. The Kobo ereading platform has a catalog of more than two million ebooks, magazines, and newspapers. The company also currently has two ereaders on the market, the Kobo Touch and Kobo Vox, and Kobo apps are available for a wide variety of iOS, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows devices.
Tokyo-based Rakuten will acquire Kobo for a total of $315 million, the ereading service will continue to operate out of its Canadian headquarters in Toronto and will retain its current management team and employees. Indigo expects to receive approximately $150 million from the sale of its stake in Kobo. The company hopes that Rakuten will provide the necessary investment boost to strengthen Kobo’s standing in the ereader market and expand its customer base. Heather Reisman, CEO of Indigo, had this to say:
“Rakuten will allow Kobo to meet the demands of competing with the very best players in the world. Notwithstanding the sale, Indigo will maintain a very strong relationship with Kobo, supporting the products and the services both in store and online and directly benefiting from the growth of the Canadian ereading market. The success of Kobo confirms that Indigo is a great brand and a strong platform on which we can continue to innovate and grow.”
Rakuten is one of the world’s leading ecommerce solution platforms with more than 10,000 employees throughout Asia, the Americas, and Western Europe. The company has made a series of acquisitions of diverse ecommerce companies over the past two years including Buy.com, the UK’s Play.com, Brazilian company Ikeda, and European PriceMinister. Michael Serbinis, CEO of Kobo, said the following about Rakuten’s acquisition of the ereading service:
“Kobo will continue its aggressive growth trajectory with Rakuten’s support. We look forward to continuing to innovate, provide the best eReading experience for customers, and expand internationally to solidify Kobo’s leadership position in the global eReading market.”
Indigo’s decision to sell its majority share in Kobo comes after they announced a loss of $40.4 million in the second quarter. Sales in Indigo stores were going down while Kobo sales were going up as more people make the transition from hardcovers and paperbacks to ebooks. Indigo still plans to support Kobo after the sale and carry Kobo devices in its stores. The sale to Rakuten is set to close in early 2012.
October 11, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Popular open source ecommerce solution, Spree, announced yesterday it has officially become incorporated as Spree Commerce Inc. This announcement comes after Spree’s raising of $1.5 million in a seed-funding round led by True Ventures. Other participants in the round include AOL Ventures and Sean Glass.
Spree commerce, created 4 years ago, is a social coding website that uses Ruby on Rails technology. It provides a platform for companies to create custom ecommerce solutions without buying expensive custom software. Being completely open source, it also encourages developers to contribute to and extend the product, which allows for continual innovation. Spree commerce is designed to make the transition into ecommerce as smooth as possible for companies by offering a flexible solution that can be easily tailored to suit different needs.
One of Spree’s most distinct and advantageous features is everything was designed with the understanding that businesses have different visions for their online stores. Because themes are easy to adjust and customize, businesses can create an ecommerce solution with a unique look and feel. For websites created with Spree commerce, the shopping cart is immediately ready to use. Also, Spree allows access to over 50 payment gateways, such as PayPal and Authorize.net. The checkout process can be completely tailored to a business’ liking because source coding is fully-accessible.
Since its creation, Spree has received over 100 contributions and has been translated into 30 languages, making it one of the most known open source sites on Github. As Spree grew in popularity, founder and CEO Sean Schofield created Rails Dog, a highly customizable services site that uses the Spree platform and offers consulting.
Although Rails Dog will not face any changes, due to the incorporation, Spree will now be available to a larger audience and will offer desired services and support. Already known for flexible and customizable open source coding, Spree will use their new funding to focus on further refining these features.
Schofield included this message to users:
“I’d also like to take a moment to personally address our awesome community, without whom this would not be possible. Spree has always been 100% open source and it will always remain that way. The licensing terms have not changed nor will they do so in the future. The license is intentionally permissive so that anyone can use Spree for personal or commercial use.”
Spree’s main investor, True Ventures has invested in other open source companies like Automattic -creators of WordPress- and Puppet Labs. Spree is also excited about the slew of advisers they have acquired, including Dries Buytaert (Creator of Drupal), Luke Kanies (Creator of Puppet), Tom Preston-Werner (Co-founder of Github), and James Lindenbaum (Co-founder of Heroku).
September 22, 2011
By The ZippyCart Content Team
Ecommerce software provider Rearden Commerce has locked in $133 million in a giant round of funding from existing investors American Express and JPMorgan Chase, as well as from new investor Citi. The fresh capital will be used toward “high-growth initiatives” for both the company and its current ecommerce software platform, Deem, while repaying its debt. With the addition of this round, Rearden Commmerce has raised a total of $353 million since launching in 2000.
Rearden Commerce is an ecommerce provider with a strong growth-initiative. As the ecommerce industry is expected to hit $279 billion by 2015, the company aims to leverage Deem’s ecommerce software platform by further developing its interoperable smart applications (which leverage big data, analytics, and semantics technology) to make the online shopping experience more technologically sophisticated for both the merchant and the consumer.
Currently Deem’s ecommerce software platform is used by over 7,500 companies across every market segment, connecting its network of 1.2 million merchants with more than 60 million consumers. This is a growth rate that has more than tripled its distribution channel penetration.
Over the next several months Rearden Commerce will also roll out a next-generation Merchant Offer apps for both merchants and consumers. This seems to be one of the first steps in the company’s strategy to leverage its over 40 partnerships worldwide (with companies like American Express and Citi) and grab a firm hold in each of the various segmented ecommerce markets they hold a presence in. With group buying being at the forefront of commerce and mobile payments on the verge of taking off in a monumental way, it would be unwise for Rearden Commerce to not get in on these lucrative markets now.
Beginning with social commerce, the company recently acquired socially-powered daily deal site HomeRun.com and OfferEngine platform, which powers group commerce programs for third-party consumer websites. The HomeRun’s social platform will be integrated with Deem to create a more personalized deal based on the consumer’s preferences and location. The acquisition gives Rearden Commerce an additional three million HomeRun subscribers to grow from.
The partnerships with American Express and Citi opens the door for Rearden Commerce to get into mobile payments. American Express offers Serve, a form of a digital wallet that lets users make payments through their mobile devices or online without having to publish their credit card information. Combine this with an internationally integrated, ecommerce software platform like Deem, and there is a robust option for merchants and consumers that would be hard to match.
“We are energized by the unique capabilities that each of our partners brings to the Deem ecosystem,” said Patrick Grady, Founder and CEO, Rearden Commerce. “This is a group of some of the world’s most successful leaders in commerce for consumers and merchants alike, and we believe that the combination of their assets and the Deem platform are indeed transformational.”
September 14, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Michael G. Rubin, founder of GSI Commerce, announced the launch of his new holding company Kynetic Monday.
The ecommerce solution entrepreneur’s launch of Kynetic comes after he sold GSI Commerce to eBay this year for $2.4 billion. Rubin spent 12 years building up GSI’s network to service 150 of the top 500 Internet retailers. Kynetic includes three brands that were excluded from the sale to eBay; RueLaLa, Fanatics, and ShopRunner. Rubin predicts that the brands will produce more than $1 billion in revenue during 2012.
Rue La La, part of GSI’s 2009 acquisition of Retail Convergence, is a site that offers discount deals on clothing, travel, and more. It is a competitor of Gilt Groupe Inc., another flash-sale site focusing on fashion. Rue La La is projected to generate $400-$500 million in revenue in 2012.
Fanatics operates ecommerce solutions for professional and collegiate sports merchandise and apparel. The Fanatics division includes professional sports league sites such as MLB.com and NFL.com, as well as its own sites including FootballFanatics.com, one of the most popular football fan gear sites on the Internet. Rubin projects that the division will generate $600-$700 million in revenue during the first full year of operation.
ShopRunner competes with Amazon Prime, offering free shipping from 50 Internet retailers for an annual fee of $79. The ShopRunner network started with 12 retailers and now includes dozens of brands such as Sports Authority, GNC, and PetSmart. Consumers can sign up for a 30-day free trial of ShopRunner on the website to start adding items to their shopping carts.
Although these three companies will be the focus of Kynetic, each brand will have the ability to make more acquisitions and add to their assets. GSI Commerce had a much broader focus with the roughly 20 businesses that it ran before before eBay acquired the company. Rubin had this to say:
“I have been a business builder all of my life and I am thrilled to bring my enthusiasm for business to Kynetic. The energy in the online commerce space is unprecedented. As the Kynetic name connotes, we are tapping into that energy and using it to drive innovation that will keep our companies at the forefront of the industry. I am genuinely excited about the prospects to propel the growth of Kynetic and our industry-leading brands.”
eBay is loaning the Kynetic $467 million and Rubin is investing an additional $31 million in the ecommerce solution. Rubin has received recognition throughout the media for his success as an entrepreneur in such outlets as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, and People. He also appeared on the CBS show “Undercover Boss” during its first season. In 2010 Forbes included him in its list of “America’s 15 Most Powerful CEOs 40 and Under”.
August 30, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the nation, announced its most recent investment in Yihaodian, an ecommerce company based in China, with the goal of acquiring a minority stake in the company. The terms of the deal were not immediately available. China boasts the world’s fastest growing economy, and Wal-Mart hopes that its investment in an established Chinese ecommerce solution will help further solidify the company’s presence in the country.
“The scale of online sales in China is expanding rapidly and is projected to match U.S. online sales in the next few years,” Wan Ling Martello, Wal-Mart’s Executive Vice President of Global e-Commerce said in a statement. “We look forward to offering Chinese consumers a wider selection of quality products at good value with a great online shopping experience.”
Wal-Mart is relying more heavily on emerging markets to bolster its slowing US retail sales. These new markets include China, Mexico and Brazil. However, the company has battled a number of challenges in the world’s fastest growing economy, including losing three top executives from its Chinese division in the last month.
Founded in 2008, Yihaodian offers over 75,000 items available for purchase. Their product offerings cover everything from computers and electronics to groceries. The company has a significant footprint in the online grocery industry in China. The site also features popular categories like maternity clothes, baby toys, and apparel that come with the promise of next-day delivery and competitive prices. Today, Yihaodian has 2,000 employees and a network that spans Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
The ecommerce solution totaled $7.5 billion in sales last year. It operates more than 330 stores in China and had a 5% market share of megastore sales in 2010, while regional chains and mom-and-pop shops accounted for 73%, according to consulting firm Monitor Group.
This is not Wal-Mart’s first move into the Chinese market. Wal-Mart opened its first store in China in 1996, and operates 189 brick-and-mortar stores in 101 cities throughout the country. In February, Walmart acquired a 35% stake in Bounteous Company, which operates hypermarkets in China under the Trust-Mart name. While it has an established physical presence in China, Wal-Mart is looking to expand its ecommerce reach in the country as well.
Wal-Mart’s expansion has not been limited to China and other emerging markets, however. Here in the US, Wal-Mart has picked up many disgruntled Netflix users and brought them over to their own video streaming service, called Vudu. Since being acquired by Walmart last year, Vudu’s share of the online movie rental market has shot up from a disappointing 1 percent to become the third most popular such service with 5.3 percent market share. The video rental and streaming service has passed Amazon and Sony PlayStation store in popularity, and seems to be attracting more and more unhappy Netflix customers who are dissatisfied with the company’s recent decision to raise prices by 60 percent for their subscriptions.
Wal-Mart’s service provides high quality streams of first-run movies sold on an individiual basis. Unlike Netflix, it’s not a monthly membership service. So while research doesn’t show Wal-Mart competing head-to-head with Netflix, the company is undoubtedly gaining customers who sought other options as the company increased prices. Some research conducted after the Neftlix price hike show that as many as 20 percent could leave the service for other options.
August 24, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Group Commerce, a New York based company that offers turn-key solutions for companies looking to offer their own daily deals, has acquired geo-location start-up Socialight. The Socialight team and technology will be put toward developing Group Commerce’s mobile strategy, Group Commerce CEO Jonty Kelt and Socialight founder Dan Melinger said. Terms of the deal are not being disclosed at this time.
Everyone has heard of daily deal sites. Groupon and LivingSocial dominate the scene, and Groupon has rapidly expanded in the past year. These ecommerce solutions rely on a customer base that they have built up from past deals to support their business. Group Commerce takes a different approach providing a “white-label” platform to let publishing brands target deals to their existing readership base. The ecommerce solution currently stands behind daily deal applications for Hearst Magazines, The New York Times, Daily Candy, Thrillist, and other smaller companies.
Kelt said: “When we saw the emergence of this group buying deals market, we were struck by how big it was so quickly, and by how perfect it was for publishers and media companies to participate in. There are three things required for success in that industry: an audience, deals and technology know-how. Publishers have audiences and sales forces to source deals, and we have the know-how and technology to stitch it all together.”
Geo-location is becoming a major source of interest for daily deal sites, as offering consumers location based deals may lead to more relevant offers, ultimately increasing the revenue generated for both the daily deal company and the stores or restaurants offering the deal. Senator Al Franken and other congressman recently unveiled a proposed law that would make it mandatory for mobile companies to inform users of what geo-location data is being gathered from their devices.
The Socialight team will work on incorporating location-aware features to Group Commerce’s mobile offerings. By focusing on combining mobile daily deals with geo-location technology, the ecommerce solution hopes that it will bring in new customers and help expand the reach of its daily deal offerings for current customers.
Group Commerce was started in 2010 by Kelt, David Rosenblatt and Andrew Glenn. All three of these entrepenuers are former Google or DoubleClick executives. The company gained early support, bringing in $18 million in venture capital to date. The ecommerce solution currently has a staff of 85 people, and is hoping to expand to 100 employees by year end.
Melinger founded Socialight in 2005. According to their website, using Socialight’s products requires no coding and is reportedly “So easy, your mom could do it!” The ecommerce solution focuses on “letting anyone build their own location-aware living map in minutes. It’s as simple as starting a blog to create apps (including for iPhone) used by local experts to capture and share real world knowledge.”
Melinger and his team are looking forward to working within a larger firm that still has a startup vibe. “When we were looking at the next steps for our company we talked to a lot of [potential buyers], both public and private,” he said. Ultimately, he decided that the idea of selling to a larger public company to “rest and vest” was unattractive. “I’m the kind of guy that can’t rest, and I just want to get to the next level. Group Commerce is a really strong startup, and I think we’re on the cusp of something really huge.”
August 23, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
There are a ton of ecommerce software platforms out there determined to try to get you the best deal, save you some money, and of course, convince you to spend your money with them instead of anywhere else. From Priceline to Travelocity to Kayak and now even Groupon in getting into the deal with their special getaways, it seems like it’s impossible to settle on a flight or a hotel without checking at least a half-dozen different sites, then holding your breath, agonizing over your selection, and finally clicking “buy.” Then you have to never talk to anyone else about how much you paid, for fear that they will have gotten a better deal somewhere else (or, even worse – on the same ecommerce software platform!).
Well Deem Travel is trying valiantly to end those days of pre-vacation torment by assembling a best-of-the-best combination system of different travel partners. Like a veritable Justice League of ecommerce solutions (or Avengers, if you are a Marvel fan), the super team up delivers rail, air, seating, and hotel information in a never-before-seen combo called the “Deem” Travel platform.
First up: TripAdvisor – the brains! Already firmly established in the travel world as a go-to resource for everything you want to know about your travel destination, Trip Advisor brings its wealth of opinions and reviews to the Deem ecommerce software system. Next Seat Guru – the planner! Jet Blue and some other leading airlines have made their seating charts available so that travelers can pick their seats for maximum comfort. But this feature isn’t universal across all airlines yet. SeatGuru brings its wealth of seating plans to the table for strategic placement of passengers within cabins. Last up is “SilverRail,” arguably the coolest code name of the group. Armed with in-depth knowledge of US and European rail systems, the new Deem ecommerce software platform is a triple threat. Patrick Grady, CEO of Rearden Commerce, the Hannibal of this team up (if this was the A-Team!) said the following:
“Anyone booking travel online knows the hassles of triple-checking multiple websites for the best itinerary and spending time sorting through thousands of unorganized search results. We’re incorporating this new information, alongside the information our Relevance Engine has about a traveler’s preferences, company policies and past travel history to surface a few relevant, customized recommendations from thousands of choices. Deem Travel will know what seat you like, the time of day you like to fly, which airplanes have Wi-Fi, which seats have extra leg room, whether you prefer high speed rail, and where you like to stay – and it’s smart enough to make it work within your company’s travel policies.”
Only time will tell if this new ecommerce software system is as deadly and effective as the sum of its parts. Deem is angling to help businesses find the best deals for their workers when they need to travel for business, and let them preserve the precious discounts that they’ve worked so hard to secure in this tough economy. While it might be a bumpy ride for Deem to establish dominance, their customers will no doubt travel in comfort.
August 17, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
In a news story seemingly designed to make you go out and put something suitably sweet and bad-for-you into your shopping cart, Digital Chocolate has acquired Sandlot games (developers of “Cake Mania”). It’s a deal that crosses both state lines and international borders. Sandlot games was founded in 2002 by Russian immigrant Daniel Bernstein. Using the skills he’d developed at Wild Tangent and connections overseas in Russia, he was able to build up the Bothel-based company and expand to a St. Petersburg studio as well.
This may make the acquisition by Digital Chocolate more than a mere coincidence/convenient purchase. Digital Chocolate, while being based in San Mateo, CA, has offices all over the world, including Barcelona, Helsinki, and (shock) St. Petersburg. CEO Trip Hawkins, formerly of a little company called Electronic Arts (which recently acquired PopCap games) may have decided that putting a successful video game company into his shopping cart was a more convenient way of expanding his existing company than going on a hiring spree. No way of telling if that’s the case or not, but he did make this statement:
“Sandlot has built a great reputation in casual games. We love their development teams and we can now expand further in Seattle and Eastern Europe. We expect to be the leading game company in at least 5 of the 7 cities where we now have development studios.”
Casual, social, and mobile are the three gaming sectors probably seeing the most growth right now. Casual games provide access to a large audience with time on their hands and can be a great place to position ads. Social games take advantage of the public’s seemingly unending hunger for ways to waste time online with their friends instead of actually seeing them face to face. Mobile games allow people to do the same, but while on the go (which means you can ignore people in person instead of spending time with them virtually from miles away).
The bottom line for all these games is revenue potential. The most successful models eschew actual shopping cart charges up front and are actually free to play…at first. Once users get involved in the game and really start enjoying it, they have the option to buy virtual goods via an in-game shopping cart and ecommerce solution. This has come to be known as “freemium.”
No telling how these revenue streams will impact Sandlot/Digital Chocolate’s future plans. Hawkins did say that they would use the added developers to speed up their cross-platform projects. Bernstein didn’t have much to say about the deal, although he will be staying on as VP of the Sandlot division. To quote Bernstein:
“We’re excited about joining forces with Digital Chocolate to grow globally. I look forward to building successful multiplatform games together.”
August 15, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
The ecommerce solution Ebay has officially bought Zong, a startup that allows mobile payments to go directly to mobile carrier billing statements. Ebay is looking to have Zong compliment its subsidiary, PayPal, seeing as how Zong has connections with over 250 mobile network operations worldwide in 45 countries and 21 languages. These connections are expected to propel the company forward into a future were mobile technology will be key to a company’s survival.
The technology that Zong produces allows customers to enter their mobile phone numbers, then after a few seconds get verification so that their payments for digital goods and services can clear and then be billed to the users’ wireless provider accounts.
The commerce industry seems to be rapidly changing with the introduction of mobile phones especially smarter phones with advanced technologies. “PayPal helps to make money work better for customers in this new commerce reality – no matter how they want to pay or what device they’re using,” said PayPal President Scott Thompson, when the acquisition was announced. “We believe that Zong will strengthen this value by helping us reach the more than 4 billion people who have mobile phones, giving them more choice and security when they pay.”
The ecommerce soluton said that Zong will help extend the reach of its PayPal online payments, specifically in the mobile and digital goods market. Recent research is now showing that many people are increasingly spending more real money on virtual goods in games like “FarmVille,” and others, such as the popular hit IMVU.
Customers often use Zong in order to purchase Facebook Credits and other digital content through their mobile carrier. It was reported that Zong Tweeted about the news of the acquisition on Thursday saying, “Keep an eye out for the cool new payment experiences we’ll be building!” Reports are showing that all three companies, PayPal, Zong, and Ebay seem enthused about the recent acquisition.
Shares of the San Jose-based company rose 19 cents to $30.39 in afternoon trading. Ebay acquired Zong for a total of $240 million.
August 4, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
ValueClick, the ecommerce solution that connect advertisers with websites, posted profit growth of 42% and beat estimates from analysts. Net income for the company rose to $17 million (representing an earnings per share of 21 cents per share) for Q2. Revenue rose 26 percent to $125.1 million, from $99.6 million a year earlier.
ValueClick used its announcement of record profits to unveil the purchase of Dotomi, which provides retailers with anonymous online-user data and helps them target relevant markets. “Dotomi’s end-to-end offering attracts large brands because of its ‘simple sophistication.’ John [Guiliani - CEO of Dotomi] and his team have built a great business integrating the technical and consultative points in the display value chain,” said ValueClick CEO Jim Zarley. “Together with ValueClick’s portfolio of products, we will be in a position to meet the needs of marketers with a single relationship that will create marketing and analytic consistency.”
Zarley also added that the new powerhouse ecommerce solution “will be in a position to meet the needs of marketers with a single relationship that will create marketing and analytic consistency. Our combined scale and expertise should accelerate their adoption of digital media.”
Dotomi is an ecommerce solution that manages everything from brand strategy and creative development to message delivery. The company has worked with over 100 retail brands, and is based in Chicago. They employ 160 people. According to the deal, ValueClick expects for Dotomi to bring in $80 million in revenue in 2011.
Under the terms of the agreement, ValueClick will acquire all remaining and outstanding equity interests in Dotomi for approximately $295 million. The deal consists of approximately 55 percent in cash and 45 percent in ValueClick common stock (VCLK, down 5.3% at time of writing). Dotomi management gets the largest portion of their compensation in ValueClick common stock, while the outside Dotomi investors will receive either cash or a combination of cash and ValueClick stock.
For the third quarter, ValueClick expects earnings per share will range from 21 cents a share to 22 cents a share, while revenue will be between $128 million and $130 million. Analysts are anticipating earnings to be around 21 cents a share and revenue of $127.6 million.
August 3, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Push Pop Press, maker of innovative ebooks for the iPad, has just been acquired by Facebook. But don’t start thinking that this means you’ll soon be putting ebooks in your shopping cart directly from Facebook (though there are already a ton of ecommerce solutions with integrated shopping carts operating on Facebook right now, and more every day). More likely this is what is increasingly being referred to as an “acqui-hire,” where a giant corporation like Facebook, Google, Microsoft, or Amazon scoops up a smaller company with what is, on the surface, an acquisition, but really what they want is the talent.
For a look at why Facebook might want to do this, just take a look a Push Pop’s website. Basically the only two things it’s there for is to showcase their awesome technology and technical skill and to let you put Al Gore’s ebook “Our Choice” into your shopping cart. Push Pop specializes in “blowing up the book” (as Wired magazine put it) by adding interactive images, maps, charts, etc. to the traditional reading experience. It makes sense – what’s the point of having an iPad/iPad2, arguably one of the most technologically advanced personal computing devices widely available for personal use, if you’re just going to read straight-up, black and white text?
The technology that Push Pop has pioneered could definitely be put to good use on the Facebook website. They said as much in a statement (from Push Pop):
“Although Facebook isn’t planning to start publishing digital books, the ideas and technology behind Push Pop Press will be integrated with Facebook, giving people even richer ways to share their stories. With millions of people publishing to Facebook each day, we think it’s going to be a great home for Push Pop Press.”
Social media is all about interactivity and integration. With the deeper functionality provided by Push Pop’s ebook-related technology, it’s easy to see how Facebook could revolutionize their own platform to allow users to expand the ways that they communicate. Again, that kind of feature upgrade seems a lot more likely than Zuckerburg and co. opening up some kind of ebook shopping cart service, especially in light of a recent NYTimes piece about how Facebook gobbles up promising startups that feature technology and/or talent that they want, then shutter the main service that made the startup noteworthy in the first place.
July 29, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
If outward appearances mean anything, it certainly looks like Amazon is preparing to compete with the streaming side of Netflix. Amazon could be getting ready to ramp up the streaming content available to its Amazon Prime subscribers. This is just the latest development in what seems like a definite effort to compete with Netflix and Hulu. Amazon also announced that it has added app developer PushButton to its acquisition shopping cart. The purchase will help it expand the number of devices on which viewers can access its Prime Instant Movies streaming service.
Amazon announced that it has added 2,000 additional CBS videos to its digital content library. Amazon also added a deal with NBC Universal to its shopping cart, and now Amazon Prime users can access older Star Trek episodes and Universal movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The Universal deal will also bring more children’s entertainment to Amazon Prime, such as Sesame Street and Babe.
PushButton is the connected app development firm that developed the PS3, Sony Internet TV and Samsung Smart TV apps for another Amazon subsidiary, Lovefilm. The firm will help expand Amazon’s currently limited reach on mobile devices. Netflix boasts a mobile reach of more than 250 devices, while streaming competitor Vudu is compatible with more than 300 devices. The mobile market, including tablets and smartphones, is rapidly expanding and viewed as a critical sector for streaming services.
The news couldn’t come at a better time for Amazon and other Netflix competitors. Netflix announced a significant price increase earlier this month. Instead of being able to receive one physical DVD at a time at home and unlimited streaming access, Netflix is forcing users to make a choice between the two plans, or simply pay full price ($7.99 each/month) for the two plans. The deep customer dissatisfaction has led to a forecast of fewer new users adding plans to their shopping carts. As if that weren’t enough, Netflix also announced dismal earnings and projections that fell far below forecasted goals, leading to a $25.68 (10%) drop in it’s per share price on Wall Street.
July 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
Lolapps and 6waves are in the midst of merging their two companies, from opposite sides of the world, together. San Francisco based Lolapps is a social gaming company that creates games for Facebook and other parts of the web. 6waves also creates games, but publishes them on their own through their integrated service in Hong Kong. The two-team company will be renamed 6waves Lolapps…clever huh? Lolapps CEO Arjum Sethi says the merger is close to being equal, meaning the companies both have around the same market cap, and profitability at the moment. The companies turn a profit through advertising space and in-game currency purchased through their ecommerce solution.
Sethi also said:
“The coming together of two of the social gaming industry’s leaders made a lot of sense given our complementary strengths and aligned vision.”
Together the companies will have about 35 million active users per month. Their 120 employees are spread throughout four main areas: the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, and United Kingdom. With social gaming giant Zynga filing for its IPO very recently, it’s easy to see the incredible growth these types of companies are seeing.
Both Lolapps and 6waves are profitable companies and both have a significant amount of funding backing them. Lolapps has received $4 million and 6waves has received $17 million.
Lolapps top game is called Ravenwood Fair, and is consistently a top performer on Facebook. The company also recently acquired a new game-engine dubbed the “Filso Engine.” This new engine features some of the technology that many developers are forced to license in order to run flash-based games. The company will be able to provide this engine to third-party developers.
Despite the “equal” merger, these social gaming ecommerce solutions will have one CEO, Rex Ng, who is the current CEO of 6waves. Sethi will have to report to him. The combined company is looking to be a very large player in the scene of social gaming sites. With our recent article on the lucrative freemium games, it is obvious that in-game ecommerce solutions provide a very large profit margin for companies like Zynga and 6waves Lolapps.
July 19, 2011
By the ZippyCart Content Team
, a company focused on helping local business get their ecommerce solutions
up and running, has been acquired by Groupon. Pricing and other terms of the acquisition have not been stated publicly. The only thing we know is that Zappedy’s website has a very large Groupon logo on the front page with an acquisition announcement below.
Innovation Endeavors is a venture capital firm that was started by the former CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt. They were one of the key investors to get Zappedy off the ground, and describe the local business ecommerce solution service like this:
Zappedy powers revolutionary applications that help brick and mortar merchants better understand, attract and retain customers. Using data gathered from a mixture of direct feeds and credit card aggregators, Zappedy enables next-generation commerce, entertainment and mobile advertising applications that recognize customers’ offline purchases as well as their online activities.
For the TLDR (Too Long Didn’t Read) group, Zappedy is described by its co-founder Na’ama Moran very simply (via Vator.tv):
“[Zappedy] is a Web solution that enables local merchants to get their products and services online in less than five minutes.”
The service enables local businesses to have their listing up on an ecommerce solution by simply sending an email. Moran described it in more detail by saying that companies just need to send in a description, pictures, deals, and whatever else they’d like to include, and Zappedy would get it up and running online.
The 5-minute install pitch seems incredibly similar to WordPress’ claim. The fact is, for the less internet-savvy users, it could take quite a bit longer than 5 minutes. It is also still unclear whether or not Groupon plans to keep Zappedy up-and-running throughout the acquisition, or if they just wanted to hire some awesome talent much like Zynga does with their acquisitions.
Groupon is still in the midst of filing for their IPO, and hopefully the first day of trading will be soon. With speculation of the company’s solvency popping up almost daily, it is difficult to see where the daily-deal-ecommerce-solution powerhouse is headed.