Google, Amazon Play Catch-Up in Group Buying: Analysis and Reactions from BuyWithMe, Tippr

12/6/10Follow @gthuang

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deal [sector] is incredibly strategic to the future of local,” says Martin Tobias, founder and CEO of Seattle-based Tippr, which makes a group-buying software platform for publishers and websites, as well as running its own branded daily deals site. “This is the next generation of marketing—basically no-cost, no-risk marketing.” (As opposed to advertising on local TV, radio, or print publications.)

“Google is looking at this as the next generation of ads,” Tobias says. “Amazon looks at it as another inventory item for e-commerce.” (One reason why Amazon might want to form a partnership with LivingSocial instead of acquiring it is to avoid paying taxes on its operations in different states, he adds.)

Tippr, for its part, is positioning itself as complementary to the big consumer brands in group buying. The company, which started in early 2010, wants to own the technology platform that Web publishers and media sites will use to install their own daily deals widgets or sites and connect local advertisers with consumers. The idea is that this could lead to a greater reach than any one consumer brand. Tippr now has about 50 employees around the U.S. (40 in Seattle), and last month its revenues were split roughly 50-50 between its own branded deals site and its platform for publishers, Tobias says. (That’s up from a 95-5 split in favor of the branded site just a few months ago.)

Although it seems like anyone could start one of these deals sites, Tobias sees intellectual property as key to the sector’s future. He has been touting Tippr’s patents for a year now, and last week the startup announced it is offering patent protection separately from its software. “Anyone providing group buying is going to need patent protection,” he says. “Everybody should be worried.” What’s more, he thinks there is room for only two national brands in each city, and one tech platform—Tippr, of course.

Andrew Moss would beg to differ. The founder of BuyWithMe, a New York-based company that started in Boston last year, has been busy building his own group-buying consumer brand—and he thinks there’s plenty of room to grow.

“It’s a very large market, it’s not winner take all,” says Moss, who has a strategic … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • Bob shrue

    An interesting complaint about tipprs technology and how they use. It made me think twice about the service provided. Actually I’ll only use 1 of the big 3 and avoid the lessor copycats/clones like tippr. Here you go: http://short-space.blogspot.com/2010/12/tippr-backstab.html

  • http://groupbuy.com Groupbuy

    It will only be a matter of time before we see the direction that the group buy market is going. If a company can obtain the majority of available email subscriptions available in a given market, then the company will own the majority of that market, discounted for those consumers who belong to multiple daily deal sites. After all, how many can one person join and not get sick and tired of all of them?

  • http://blogs.forbes.com/quickerbettertech/2010/12/06/online-group-buyings-need-for-speed/ Leigh

    http://blogs.forbes.com/quickerbettertech/2010/12/06/online-group-buyings-need-for-speed/

    While Groupon’s strong presence in the market is impressive, it is estimated that only 15 percent of Americans are presently visiting group-buying sites. It remains very early in the game, and there is still tremendous room for consumer usage and category growth by multiple players in this space.

  • Rory

    Groupon and similar sites like LivingSocial and BuyWithMe are a very popular trend. We’ll continue to see them cropping up all over the place. The big discounts they provide on products or services are good for consumers. A great way to find the best daily deals in your area is by using http://www.shopway.com. It’s much easier than checking all those emails or sites one by one.