The growing number of influential Weibo commentators are increasingly opening their own online shops or promoting products.
Gautam Thakar takes over the role previously held by Tim O’Shaughnessy, who earlier this year announced plans to step down.
LivingSocial Inc. has named former eBay Inc. executive Gautam Thakar president and CEO. He takes over from Tim O’Shaughnessy, who announced plans to step down in January once the daily-deal site found his successor.
Thakar will assume the position next month and O'Shaughnessy, who is also a co-founder of LivingSocial, will stay on as an adviser to assist with the transition.
Thakar, currently general manager of eBay advertising, has worked at eBay since 2005, according to his LinkedIn profile. During his tenure he held a number of executive positions, including CEO of comparison shopping engine Shopping.com, which eBay acquired in 2005. His other positions included overseeing eBay’s international marketing efforts and serving as country manager of eBay India.
“Gautam’s consumer-centric mindset, strong marketing expertise and track record as a successful executive are ideally suited to position LivingSocial for expansion during this exciting time in the evolution of online commerce and advertising,” says Tige Savage, a member of LivingSocial’s board of directors.
While LivingSocial launched as a site selling discount vouchers, its model is rapidly changing as it attempts to breathe life into its business. In late 2012 it laid off about 9% of its workforce, and last fall the retailer said it planned to move away from offering time-sensitive promotions and introduce tools and services merchants can use to monitor and analyze consumers’ responses to campaigns both on and off of LivingSocial. That approach largely mirrors the evolution of the retailer’s biggest rival, Groupon Inc., has taken to energize its business.
However, LivingSocial has struggled to grow, even in the sale of physical goods, which is a thriving area of Groupon’s business. LivingSocial sold an Internet Retailer-estimated $173 million in physical goods last year, according to the Internet Retailer 2014 Top 500 Guide, down from more than $200 million a year earlier. Meanwhile, Groupon, No. 44 in the Top 500 Guide, sold $919 million in physical goods last year, up from $454.7 million a year earlier.
Amazon.com Inc. owns 31% of LivingSocial, No. 155 in the Top 500 Guide. As of March 31, Amazon’s share of LivingSocial was worth $100 million, according to Amazon’s most recent filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Amazon is No. 1 in the Top 500.