In the local space, it was out with the old and in with the new during the first six months of 2014. AOL finally unloaded its struggling hyperlocal network Patch, ending a four year-long saga for the digital media upstart. Meanwhile, investors poured billions into a new generation of local commerce startups, led by Uber’s eye-popping $1.2 billion round of funding. And amid all of the chaos, Street Fight held its eighth industry conference, Street Fight Summit West in San Francisco.
With the first half of the year in the bag, here’s a look back at the top Street Fight stories (at least in terms of traffic) so far this year.
1. Why Ecommerce Companies Are Eyeing Brick-and-Mortar Retail
Steven Jacobs, January 23rd: Over the past year, a string of ecommerce firms have invested in brick-and-mortar locations in an attempt to cash in on local markets that still account for over 90% of retail spending in the U.S. Manish Chandra, the founder the online fashion marketplace Poshmark, says physical locations will play an important part in ecommerce strategies moving forward.
2. New Patch Owner Hale Running Company in ‘Lean, Entrepreneurial Mode’
Tom Grubisich, March 6th: “There are lots of potential models, and there’s no reason to be ideological about finding the right match between models and communities,” says Hale. “The best thing for hyperlocal journalism is a sustainable business model.”
3. The Patch Saga, and Its Implications for Local Media
Steven Jacobs, January 17th: Aol’s decision to unload its struggling hyperlocal network may not have been unexpected, but the distressed property’s fire sale does carry with it some broader questions, even as many local media companies have recently started to see signs of reinvestment.
4. Brady on Thunderdome: The Glue at the Core Was Never Able to Dry
Tom Grubisich, April 24th: “The local digital news solution is probably going to come from new players rather than legacy ones,” said outgoing Digital First Media editor-in-chief Jim Brady. “Somewhere in that broad swath of experimentation are all the pieces for a successful model. It’s just a matter of time until someone finds the right mix.”
5. Two Years After Private Equity Carve-Out, What’s Next for YP?
Steven Jacobs, May 8th: Two years ago, AT&T shed its local marketing business, selling a majority stake in its print and digital yellow pages assets to Cerberus Capital for $950 million in cash and debt. During a conversation with Street Fight, the company’s CEO David Krantz said the company is well-ahead of where its private equity parent expected it would be, and discussed how YP planned reprise its role as a leading consumer brand.
6. After Bust, LivingSocial Looks to Boom Again
Steven Jacobs, March 31st: LivingSocial isn’t quite the rocketship it was a few years ago. But, after a year of pulling back, and with a change in leadership in the works, the company is looking for a second wind. Street Fight recently caught up with Doug Miller, chief revenue officer at LivingSocial, to talk about where the company went wrong, how it plans to get back on track, and what wave it looks to ride next.
7. At Westfield Labs, Rethinking Retail One Mall at a Time
Steven Jacobs, May 20th: In 2012, the Westfield Group, one of the largest owners of indoor malls in the world, opened Westfield Labs, a division tasked with developing technology to improve the retail experience. Street Fight recently caught up with Nicholas Cabrera, the division’s SVP of product development, to talk about the role of technology in the physical shopping experience.
8. Case Study: Ace Hardware Uses Mobile Tools to Drive Shoppers In-Store
Stephanie Miles, March 19th: National hardware chain Ace Hardware recently debuted a new mobile iPhone application, meant to enhance the shopping experience and encourage customers to complete their transaction at local Ace Hardware locations.
9. In Run-Up to IPO, Yodle Makes Its Bet on Local Marketing Automation
Steven Jacobs, April 16: Last week, the Wall Street Journal reported that local marketing firm Yodle was shopping for banks to underwrite a potential public offering. In an interview with Street Fight, Court Cunningham, chief executive at Yodle, declined to comment on the reports, but talked about the the evolution of the small business marketing space, the rise of local marketing automation, and the subsequent push by these companies to bundle services into an integrated product.
10. Facebook’s Levy: ‘No Singular Event’ Triggered Decline in Businesses’ Organic Reach
Steven Jacobs, April 15th: According to multiple reports, the social networking company has “slashed organic page reach,” reducing the number of users which can see a business’s photos, posts, and updates. In a wide ranging interview with Street Fight, Dan Levy, director of small business at Facebook, talks about the decline organic reach for businesses, the evolving relationship between marketer and consumer, and the company’s unique challenge of managing 25 million business clients.