GoNabit to be absorbed by LivingSocial

Dubai-based group buying site plans to leverage LivingSocial’s 30m users for Dubai deals

Tags: E-commerceEntertainmentGoNabit (www.GoNabit.com)Group buyingLivingSocial (www.livingsocial.com)United Arab Emirates
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GoNabit to be absorbed by LivingSocial GoNabit is planning on leveraging the 30m LivingSocial users for travel deals by Middle East-based companies.
By  Georgina Enzer Published  July 4, 2011

Dubai-based group buying site, GoNabit, will soon be fully absorbed into global group buying site, LivingSocial, becoming LivingSocial Middle East, according to CEO and co-founder Dan Stuart.

"I think the biggest change that people will see is that at some point we will converge with LivingSocial. At some point we will not only from a business perspective become LivingSocial Middle East, but from a website perspective too, we just don't know when," said Stuart.

GoNabit is also planning to leverage LivingSocial's existing user base of over 30 million subscribers for deals it is offering here in the Middle East. This is of immediate benefit to Middle East businesses, exposing them to millions of customers across the globe and increasing their marketing reach through very little effort.

"If we do a deal with a hotel property in the Middle East somewhere, why does it matter where someone is buying from? To be able to spread that to a global audience in New York, or Sydney or wherever will be wonderful," said Stuart.

With the acquisition, the terms of which have not been disclosed, GoNabit now has access to far greater resources in terms of both money and technical knowledge and will be utilising LivingSocial's IT platform for its own websites.

"We are going to try and leverage as much of their technology and platform as possible, whether that means some of their platform or all of it, these are discussions we are having now. It is likely to be more not less, even to the point of having their full system. Their front and back-end systems are amazing and we would be crazy not to leverage that.

They have the ability to analyse past deals they have had and looking for optimum deal structures that work best for businesses and buyers and they have been trying to work towards that overall yield for future offers and looking at optimal scheduling such as, is it better to put a sushi deal at the end of the month or beginning of the month?" said Stuart.

Stuart went on to say that GoNabit's acquisition by LivingSocial has meant that GoNabit's growth is now hyper-fuelled across the region and the company.

"Staffing will always support physical and geographic growth and we are moving ahead with plans to do more in the markets we are in and move into markets where it makes sense. We are not just going to enter every market in the region just for the sake of entering them. We have to have the staff to support this, so there will be a lot of new faces in the business," said Stuart.

GoNabit has also just launched Dubai Family Deals, a concept that LivingSocial does in 70 of its markets including the US, Canada, the USA and Australia, and is planning on bringing the concept to more of its Middle East markets. The company is also in a period of expansion within the markets they are already in.

"Every single market that we are in, we have either moved to a bigger office, have leased a bigger office and are in the process of moving, or are in the process of signing a lease to move to a bigger office, so we are in that logistics phase of growth right now. In Egypt and Lebanon we can't hire any more people because we have nowhere for them to sit.

We are still trying to figure out transition and integration in several different places at once," said Stuart.

Stuart says that LivingSocial did not acquire GoNabit for its cash reserves or because LivingSocial was unable to get into Middle Eastern markets, but that it was rather a team acquisition, which recognised the value and know-how of the staff in GoNabit. All staff currently working at GoNabit will be retained, but more people will be hired to aid expansion.

"From a senior management perspective we are all very linked and staying with the business and from a staff perspective too. My role is to find the best people, keep the best people and never run out of cash, and hopefully the third one is looked after now , so I can focus on those other two. Half my days are spent interviewing people for jobs now, trying to get people to come to GoNabit," said Stuart.

The acquisition deal between LivingSocial and GoNabit took approximately six months from the first meetings to the final agreement.

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