LivingSocial gaining ground on Groupon. LivingSocial seems to be giving the U.S.'s dominant group-buying discount site a run for its money. Mashable reports that LivingSocial's traffic skyrocketed by 80 percent last week, but that's likely largely due to its sweet deal by the company's new investor, Amazon, which offered 50 percent off a $20 purchase. Still, it was the biggest group-buying deal in history with more than 1 million vouchers sold. Can LivingSocial stay within striking distance of Groupon, even as Google tests out a new group-buying prototype? Mashable is betting "that when this week's data comes in, LivingSocial's traffic will fall back to Earth."
Is Facebook worth $50 billion? Hardly, say investors. Goldman Sachs' recent $450 million investment in Facebook may have technically valued the social media site at $50 billion, but respondents to a Bloomberg poll aren't buying it. A full 69 percent of 1,000 respondents made up of investors, traders and analysts said Facebook is overvalued at its current valuation. Just 10 percent said the valuation was appropriate, while 4 percent said Facebook is worth more. Of greater concern, perhaps, is that the poll found the Facebook deal has made investors uneasy about Internet companies in general. More than half the respondents said the company's valuation signals the 'beginning of a dangerous new bubble' in the market.
Export pitch coming to a city near you. Members of President Obama's cabinet want to double exports by 2015. Their plan of action? Hitting the cross-country road to persuade small businesses to take up international trade. Officials charged with spreading the message include Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk. Their first stop is Minneapolis, followed by cities in California, Louisiana and Delaware. The goal is to reach thousands of small businesses interested in exporting—or, as Kirk puts it, "the low-hanging fruit." The Wall Street Journal has the story.
Cross-breeding your business. Today's New York Times explains the benefits of co-branding with another business. Blogger and advertising expert MP Mueller cites the partnership between Vineyard Vines, which sells preppy ties, and St. Francis Winery as the perfect example. In November, they came out with "A Whale of a Chardonnay," a limited edition wine sold in a Vineyard Vines tote, featuring the Vineyard Vines logo. St. Francis Winery CEO Christopher Silva says the partnership helped both companies grab a bigger market share, since the two brands target the same audience. 'Good branding involves familiarity, getting your name out there,' he said. 'The better the association, the better reflection on your brand...People who shop at Vineyard Vines tend to be more traveled and educated and for our purposes, are interested in better wines."
New Taco Bell ad: Our beef is real! File this under bizarre advertising. Taco Bell, a subsidiary of Yum Brands, Inc., placed full-page ads in national newspapers today asserting that the beef it uses for tacos and burritos is, indeed, beef. The ad comes on the heels (hooves?) of a class-action lawsuit, filed last week, which claims Taco Bell "actually uses a meat mixture in its burritos and tacos that contains binders and extenders and doesn't meet requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled beef," according to The Wall Street Journal. The law firm that filed the suit claims the filling contains only 35 percent actual heifer. Taco Bell has vociferously denied such claims, and launched the new ad campaign to "set the record straight," according to Greg Creed, president of Taco Bell. "Thank you for suing us," the ad reads. "Here's the truth about our seasoned beef."
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