LivingSocial CEO says has no reason to go public

Thu Jun 21, 2012 4:05am IST

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* O'Shaughnessy says may consider IPO in future

* Says learning lessons from other recent tech IPOs

* LivingSocial CFO says has halted raising more capital

By Jasmin Melvin

WASHINGTON, June 20 (Reuters) - LivingSocial chief executive Tim O'Shaughnessy said on Wednesday that the online daily-deal company has no immediate desire to go public and is learning lessons from the rocky public debuts of other hot tech companies.

LivingSocial had been expected to follow in rival Groupon Inc's footsteps when Groupon went public in November.

Talk of a LivingSocial IPO subsided earlier this year after Wall Street became increasingly skeptical of the long-term potential of the daily-deal model, which is highly competitive and has low barriers to entry. Groupon's stock is trading at roughly half of its $20 IPO debut level.

O'Shaughnessy, speaking at a media event on Wednesday, said he sees only four reasons for a company to go public: "They want a branding event, they need access to capital, they need liquidity or they need a currency that's marked to do lots of M&A transactions."

"If any of those four things is ever very prohibitive to us, then it's something that we would look at doing," he said.

O'Shaughnessy said the company would take into account lessons learned from the IPOs of Groupon and social networking site Facebook Inc which has lost roughly 17 percent of its market value since its overly hyped IPO last month.

LivingSocial, which lost $558 million last year, has been trying to diversify its offerings to show it is more than just a one-trick service.

The company has been rolling out new services in recent quarters - such as live entertainment and package experiences like a sushi meal followed by professional sumo wrestling - that expand beyond the original discounted daily deal approach.

New services launched in the last 18 months, including travel deals and a partnership with Amazon.com, now bring in over 25 percent of LivingSocial's revenue.

Amazon owns roughly 30 percent of LivingSocial.

John Bax, LivingSocial's chief financial officer, said the company has halted raising additional capital since securing about $176 million in financing earlier this year.

O'Shaughnessy said his goal is to make LivingSocial the "default" when thinking of local commerce, similar to how Google Inc comes to mind when thinking about Internet search.

"I want (it) to be something that when you wake up in the morning, one of the very first things you do is hit the LivingSocial app, and when you get to work it be a tab you keep open all day long," he said.

LivingSocial, with more than 60 million members, is second to Groupon in the online-deals market. But its 26 percent market share in North America is more than twice any of its other competitors.

The company is currently weighing expanding nationwide an event listings service that it began testing in Los Angeles two weeks ago.

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