GrubHub is bringing restaurant ordering into the 21st century

Delivery and takeout order service GrubHub is testing its OrderHub service  in more than 400 restaurants in Chicago. I’ve complimented GrubHub before for adapting to how restaurants do business — by sending orders to them by fax. Now it’s helping some of its higher volume restaurants in Chicago automate the process with OrderHub, a tablet that alerts restaurants to new orders and allows them to confirm the order.

6 tips for buying a daily deal

With all of the doom and gloom surrounding Groupon, which reached yet another all-time low in trading today, I thought it would be useful to write up my best practices for buying Groupons and other daily deals.

Who is to blame for the Groupon fiasco? Everyone

We’ve heard quite a few opinions about who’s to blame for Groupon’s IPO fiasco ever since the company announced a restatement of its earnings last Friday and indicated that it had material weakness in its internal controls. Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times blames greedy tech companies. Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily blames greedy Wall Street bankers. They’re both right — and they’re both wrong. The blame for this fiasco can be spread far and wide.

Groupon’s new Scheduler feature has potential, but two very big IFs

Groupon today launched a wide beta of its Groupon Scheduler product. The Scheduler is an online calendaring tool that allows service businesses such as spas, yoga studios, contractors and photographers to take reservations online. It’s open to all merchants, not just companies that run deals with Groupon. The daily deals company is billing it as a “free trial,” and it’s unclear whether Groupon will eventually charge for the service. Groupon did not respond to two requests for comment on this story.

How Amazon can be a friend to small businesses

I’ve been testing out the Kindle Fire tablet for the last several weeks. At $199, it’s a tremendous value. It’s no iPad — I just upgraded to the new iPad as well — but it provides a solid base-level tablet and reader. I can think of a lot of uses for it: an e-book reader, a video consumption device, and a dedicated Sonos controller. But the most exciting use I can see for it would be for Amazon to turn into a device that helps small, local retailers.

What Silicon Valley can learn from a failure in public policy

Across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., sits Washington National Airport (DCA). It’s one of my favorite airports. Two of the three terminals are bright and airy. It’s not as congested as other airports on the East Coast. Security lines aren’t usually an issue. It’s connected to D.C.’s Metro system more efficiently than BART is connected to San Francisco International Airport. If you don’t want to take Metro, downtown D.C. is a cheap taxi ride away.

Groupon’s whale problem

I’ve long suspected that Groupon has a whale problem — that a lot of its revenue comes from a small number of customers. New research from ForeSee indicates that this may be the case.