LivingSocial, the daily deal site that is often referred to as the main competitor to Groupon (see our extensive guide on group-buying sites in the United States and beyond here), is experiencing fast growth.
Rather than launching in one new city on a regular basis, like Groupon tends to do, the company this morning announced that it has added 25 live markets to its roster, nearly doubling the amount of cities it offers daily deals in.
The social commerce startup is now effectively live in 52 markets and 3 countries (the U.S., UK and Canada), now that it has added cities like Sacramento, Miami, Las Vegas, Toronto, Memphis, Buffalo, Detroit and Vancouver to the fray.
Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO and cofounder of LivingSocial, refers to the addition of the 25 cities the “tip of the iceberg”, and says the service has seen explosive organic growth since its launch in July 2009 (the company has been around for much longer than that, but it started out as a developer of applications for social networks).
Dubbed a local activity discovery engine, LivingSocial enables people to find out what shops, restaurants, activities and services are popular in their area, and offers new promotions every morning via its website, Twitter, Facebook and an iPhone application. The company says it has dedicated ‘city experts’ on the ground in every market, constantly researching the best in local attractions to bring a savings of up to 90% for consumers.
Deals are live for 24 hours, as is typical with group-buying sites, but LivingSocial interestingly has a referral model in place that gives users their deal for free if they refer three friends who also participate. Seemingly, this helps spur growth tremendously.
To date, LivingSocial claims to have attracted 85 million people, making it a force to be reckoned with in the red hot group-buying space. Investors agree – so far the startup has raised close to $50 million in venture capital.