Good interview with LivingSocial CEO Tim O’Shaughnessy in Fortune today. A couple of questions/answers stood out for me:
A few months ago, you said that while Google may be the go-to solution for search and Facebook for social, there isn’t a “default answer” for local. Do you still think that?
How can LivingSocial be the default answer to local then?
I think particularly on the consumer side, there is a desire for people to be more connected with their city. And people want to support the business down the street. They want to, when they’re walking around, go and know something about their community. They want to brag about their community. ‘This is why my sports team is better than your sports team.’ Those things all matter, and I don’t think there’s been a company able to go and help facilitate that in a broad-based way. I think if we can go and do that, while providing merchants and customers with new revenue streams in a thoughtful, effective way, there is that opportunity to seek that answer for local.
What it means: From a merchant point of view, there are two sides to “local search”. The first one, known merchant searches, is now controlled by Google. That’s when consumers are looking for a phone number, hours of operations or driving directions of a local merchant they already know. The second one, discovery, is the one that hasn’t been fully cracked yet. Merchant reviews, daily deals, local Q&A, search, recommendations, etc. all contribute to this discovery process but I believe no one fully controls that space. It’s still wide open and huge opportunity. LivingSocial is part of the solution but it’s still a small part, and they’re still far from dominating the “local discovery” space. Lots more work and evolution to the service will be needed.