Virgin America fifth anniversary marketing success

Virgin America shows how to sell value, not price

This week, San Francisco-based Virgin America is celebrating its fifth anniversary. That’s an anniversary that few startups hit and very few startup airlines hit.


FAQ on the Starbucks-Square deal

For die hard Starbucks junkies, it seems the best bet in the short term is to pay with your Starbucks card or the Starbucks mobile app.


What the Starbucks Square deal really means

By now, you’ve probably heard that Starbucks is going to be investing $25 million in Square, the San Francisco-based mobile payments company. As part of the deal, Starbucks will switch its credit and debit card processing to Square in the United States. But once you get past the headline, what does this really mean?

PayPal Here

PayPal wants to be here, there and everywhere

PayPal is the granddaddy of the online payments space. It was the remora of eBay until the auction giant bought it in 2002. Last year, PayPal processed $119 billion in transactions and accounted for 38% of eBay’s revenue. In the past year, eBay’s stock (+52%) has well outperformed Google (+11%), Amazon (+16%), Facebook (-45%) and Groupon (-75%) as of Friday’s close. (Disclosure: I have options against Facebook and Groupon. Facebook’s and Groupon’s numbers are based on their respective IPOs.)

PayPal scoffs at Google Wallet

PayPal scoffs at Google Wallet

Yesterday, American Express came out and said that it wasn’t associated with Google Wallet. Today, PayPal is slamming the service, saying, essentially, that Google Wallet is a lousy idea.

American Express not in Google Wallet

American Express isn’t part of Google Wallet

Although you can now load an American Express card onto Google Wallet, AmEx wants to make sure consumers know that it’s not an American Express-approved product. (Disclosure: I have a very small position in $AXP.)

Google Wallet for mobile payments

Google Wallet: Leave home without it

Sometimes companies do something just to feel like they’re making progress, even if that something makes no sense. That’s the only way I can rationalize what Google is doing with the latest twist on its Wallet initiative.

NBC Olympics

A post about NBC’s Olympics coverage that NBC might agree with

NBC has been getting a lot of flak on social networks lately for its handling of the Olympics. Because of the time difference between the United States and London, most of the high-profile events are shown with a delay of several hours.

Groupon Goods revenue lower than reported to SEC

Groupon “will get around anything the SEC has to say”

Groupon, the troubled daily deals company, has found a new way to mislead its investors. By my estimates, Groupon inflated its first quarter North American revenue by 5% to 8%. (Disclosure: I have various puts and wagers against Groupon.)

Can Marissa Mayer turn Yahoo around?

Turning Yahoo around is going to be really tough. And this really has nothing to do with new CEO Marissa Mayer and everything to do with the current state of Yahoo and how long its products have been neglected.

Groupon reaches to the skies to deliver even less-qualified customers

With its stock continually reaching new lows, Groupon is going to greater heights to find customers. The daily-deals site is now advertising deals to customers via Gogo’s in-flight wireless service. (Disclosure: I have puts and several wagers relating to Groupon.)

The future of local is real time and mobile

Since the mid-1990s, entrepreneurs have been trying to tackle the local market. Many have failed. Others, like Yelp and Groupon, have been successful selling services to small businesses, but those services are of dubious value. (Disclosure: I have puts against Yelp and Groupon.)

Starwood hotels use social media for customer service

Starwood: social media customer service done right

Yesterday, I wrote about some of the challenges that face companies that use social media for customer service. Today, I want to share a fantastic experience I had with Starwood’s customer service.

British Airways Googles passengers

British Airways gets snoopy on its passengers

With one-search access to a lot of our lives on the Internet, we’re at the beginnings of a lot of discussions on what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to social media and database usage.


Why HotelTonight is a deal company I can get behind

Discount hotel app HotelTonight announced $23 million in funding yesterday. It’s the kind of deal company I can get behind. (Disclosure: HotelTonight provided me a $100 credit to try the service.)

Groupon will tuck you in

Groupon tries out creepy new deal: tuck ins

Groupon today launched a unique deal: You can have a Groupon employee come and tuck you into bed. As far as strange deals go, this one even beats out the deal offered by Groupon Philippines for 76% off circumcisions. (Disclosure: I have options against Groupon.)

Groupon investors race for exit

Groupon investors race for the exits as lockup ends

Groupon shares dropped to a new all-time low today as its lockup ended, releasing a torrent of new shares onto the market. Thirty minutes into the trading session, Groupon had already traded 75% of its average daily trading volume. This was Groupon’s third highest volume trading day. (Disclosure: I have various puts against Groupon.)

flights to DC

Bay Area companies get another nonstop flight to Capitol Hill

San Francisco is going from zero non-stop flights to Washington National Airport to two non-stops this summer. Virgin America announced today that it will start its service to the airport just a few miles from Capitol Hill on August 14.  United started service on the route two weeks ago. Flights from San Francisco to Washington National had been illegal for more than 40 years. Virgin America got a much coveted exemption to the airport’s perimeter rule.

LivingSocial attempts a more hands-on approach to local commerce

In its latest experiment in local commerce, LivingSocial is getting hands on with a new events space in downtown DC. Called 918 F, the space hosts a variety of events including cooking classes, zumba sessions, pop-up restaurants, and painting classes with wine.

Car2Go could radically transform urban transportation

It’s incredibly rare that I run across a technology that could improve economic efficiency, better the environment, and improve quality of life for many. Car2Go hits that trifecta.

Facebook potential

6 multibillion dollar businesses Facebook would do really well at

With Facebook’s IPO less than 24 hours away, I remain very bullish about the company. (Disclosure: I have entered my indication of interest with my broker for an IPO allocation. I expect that, like most people who ask for shares, I will get none.)

AmEx local offers

AmEx’s new local offers pose threat to Groupon

American Express is releasing a new version of its iPhone app today that lets users find offers at nearby businesses. The new feature, dubbed “My Offers,” represents a threat to Groupon, which has tried to entice merchants to market through its mobile product, Groupon Now. (Full disclosure: I have a very small stake in AmEx and a variety of short positions in Groupon.)

Groupon study

Study: Groupon’s merchant quality is on the downslide

Have you had the feeling the quality of Groupon deals is going down? If so, you’re right. A report released this morning by Giorgos Zervas, a postdoctoral fellow of computer science at Yale University, shows that the average rating of a Groupon merchant before a deal runs is declining as Groupon matures. Zervas and other researchers had shown earlier that a business’s individual Yelp ratings dropped after running a Groupon. Yelp ratings by Groupon customers were, on average, 10% lower than those of their peers. (Disclosure: I met Zervas after the initial study and offered my theory that the average Yelp rating of merchants featured would be declining.)

Discount deals

Doing deals the right way

I’ve voiced quite a bit of opposition to the daily deals industry, but that doesn’t mean I’m opposed to discounting in general. Discounting can be an important part of the marketing mix, especially for encouraging trials.

Rocky on Groupon

My role in the Groupon story

Recently, people have questioned my motivations around writing about Groupon. They have tried to insinuate that I’m writing about Groupon for personal financial gain.