April 30, 2012, 11:26 AM

LivingSocial’s revenue soars in Q1

The increase comes as LivingSocial increases the number of deals it offers.

Zak Stambor

Managing Editor

Lead Photo

LivingSocial’s revenue increased 168.3% in the first quarter of 2012 to $110 million from $41 million in the same quarter a year earlier, according to Amazon.com Inc. The e-retailer owns a 29% stake in the daily deal operator worth $298 million, according to Amazon’s latest quarterly filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Sources familiar with LivingSocial’s operations have told Internet Retailer that Amazon’s filings don’t paint a full picture of the daily deal operator’s finances. Those other areas include non-cash items, stock compensation and acquisition-related expenses.

Meanwhile, another report, this one from daily-deal aggregator Yipit, also shows that LivingSocial posted strong gains in the quarter.

LivingSocial’s North American gross billings reached $195 million in Q1, a 15.4% jump from $169 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to data compiled by Yipit. The growth comes after the daily deal operator’s gross billings increased 6.3% in the fourth quarter compared with the third quarter. Yipit provided no year-over-year data.

Looking at the LivingSocial’s gross billings on a monthly basis, the daily deal operator increased 17% quarter over quarter in March and 21% in February. The company’s gross billings decreased 9% in January due to a normal seasonal dip, says Yipit.

Sparking that growth was the daily deal operator’s travel arm, LivingSocial Escapes. Its gross billings increased 31.0% in the quarter to $38 million from $29 million in the fourth quarter. That means that Escapes accounted for 19.5% of LivingSocial’s North American gross billings in the quarter, up from 17.2% in the fourth quarter.

One key to LivingSocial’s growth is the higher number of deals it offered in the first quarter, more than 21,000 in North America, nearly 15% more than in the fourth quarter. LivingSocial’s gross billings per deal were roughly flat, which means that the daily deal operator was able to present consumers more deals without negatively affecting the average deal’s conversion rate or offering lower-priced deals.

“While this is a battle of diminishing returns, there isn’t a sign of slowdown just yet because LivingSocial is getting better and better at diversifying its offerings,” says Unaiz Kabani, Yipit data product manager.

LivingSocial could not be reached for immediate comment.

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