The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
LivingSocial, which operates a site that offers daily coupons, says it has raised $25 million in its latest round of venture funding.
LivingSocial, which operates a site that offers daily coupons for restaurants, hotels, spas, bars and sporting events, says it has raised $25 million in a Series B round of venture funding led by U.S. Venture Partners. The site also launched an affiliate program and expanded to more U.S. cities.
The deals on LivingSocial.com, which change daily, offer savings that average 50% to 70%. For instance, a consumer today can spend $10 to buy $25 worth of wine at a Chicago wine retailer. Consumers can share the offer through Facebook and Twitter. Each market has one deal per day. Other companies, notably Groupon, offer similar offers for consumers who sign up.
“With more than a million people already using LivingSocial deals, online group buying is a movement that is clearly resonating with consumers,” says Tim O’Shaughnessy, LivingSocial’s CEO.
The new funding has enabled LivingSocial to expand to Chicago, Denver, Raleigh-Durham and San Diego. LivingSocial now serves 13 cities and says it expects to have a presence in dozens of markets by 2011. Grotech Ventures and Revolution LLC also took part in the investment round. LivingSocial raised $5 million in capital in June 2008 and $5 million in December, says a company spokeswoman.
LivingSocial also has launched an affiliate program for blogs and other sites. Web publishers can include LivingSocial deals on their sites and earn money for deals purchased by consumers. The company did not disclose exactly how much affiliates would earn.
“We expect hundreds, if not thousands, of sites to sign up for the program,” a LivingSocial spokeswoman says.