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LivingSocial Makes More Huge Cuts, Lays Off 20 Percent of Staff

If there's going to be a turnaround story at LivingSocial, it's going to be a much smaller company that accomplishes it.

Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

If there’s going to be a turnaround story at LivingSocial, it’s going to be a much smaller company that accomplishes it.

The one-time deals darling is laying off 20 percent of its staff, or 200 employees, as it attempts to transform its business from one that relies solely on a fading daily-deals business to a broader online marketplace of things to do in a given city. The job cuts come a little less than a year after CEO Gautam Thakar axed 400 employees a few months after he was hired to replace co-founder Tim O’Shaughnessy as chief executive.

“This action is difficult, yet it allows us to operate more efficiently, while focusing our investments into accelerating progress toward our mission of becoming a leading experiences marketplace,” Thakar said in a statement.

As the distance between LivingSocial and category leader Groupon grew over the past two years, the hugely-funded company has been looking for ways to pivot into a more sustainable model. The current attempt includes focusing narrowly on a few areas of local commerce such as travel, restaurants and salons in an attempt to differentiate. Over time, this will mean purging the site of most services — such as home cleaning or auto detailing — that don’t meet the company’s definition of an “experience.” LivingSocial will also limit the physical products it sells to ones that aid in an activity, such as yoga mats.

In one new pilot test, restaurants partnering with LivingSocial can offer different discounts to diners depending on the time of day they visit. Diners don’t have to carry a discount voucher with them and will instead automatically receive a credit on their credit card account.

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