Off the Block | Street Fight - Part 2

The Clever Solution Behind Path’s Place Messaging Service

Steven Jacobs

The Clever Solution Behind Path’s Place Messaging Service

In late September, the company added a feature to its messaging app called Places that allows users to text local businesses with questions, and, often within minutes, receive an answer. The experience is simple and habitual for both merchant and consumer, yet the infrastructure inside is a patchwork blend of technology and people that demonstrates a remarkable empathy for the realities of the market today…

Beacons Do Pose a Privacy Threat — But It’s Not the One You’re Worried About

Steven Jacobs

Beacons Do Pose a Privacy Threat — But It’s Not the One You’re Worried About

Earlier this week, Buzzfeed published a scathing report detailing an initiative by outdoor advertising giant Titan to install bluetooth beacons in hundreds of phone booths across New York City. But the report does more to underscore the shortcomings of the local technology industry in explaining the new technology than to expose a new, meaningful threat to the consumer privacy…

In Navigating Supply and Demand, Groupon Hopes for New Life

Steven Jacobs

In Navigating Supply and Demand, Groupon Hopes for New Life

During a presentation at BIA/Kelsey’s Leading in Local event in New Orleans Tuesday, Dan Roarty, vice president of local commerce at Groupon, positioned the company’s deal marketplace as one part of a much more ambitious effort to create a platform that connects local supply and local demand well-beyond the confines of an email blast…

Ecommerce Companies Finding Success in Brick-and-Mortar

Steven Jacobs

Ecommerce Companies Finding Success in Brick-and-Mortar

The move into physical retail has become a fashionable choice within New York’s growing ecommerce industry. Now, these firms are finding that industry watchers may have overstated the economic advantages of an online-only sales model particularly as new technologies allow retailers to reduce the footprint needed to generate sufficient revenue.

Booker Eyes New Markets, More Capital

Steven Jacobs

Booker Eyes New Markets, More Capital

Sixteen months ago, Bain Capital’s venture wing made a $27 million bet on Booker. Now, the company says its gearing up to raise another big round in order help propel it into a number of new appointment and class-based verticals and hold off a bevy of increasingly well-capitalized competitors…

As IPOs Near, Tech Takes Another Crack at Small Business

Steven Jacobs

As IPOs Near, Tech Takes Another Crack at Small Business

A handful of upcoming IPOs will add fuel to an already-competitive small business marketing and technology industry. But the fundamental question is how these companies slow an already rapid rate of commoditization, and “build a moat” around their businesses to hold back the next wave of startups looking to grab market share in their wake…

Why the Mobile Industry Needs to Address Its Data Problem

Steven Jacobs

Why the Mobile Industry Needs to Address Its Data Problem

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published a report detailing the widespread use of surveillance software by governments to track the movements of cellphone users both within and outside their borders. The news highlights yet another example of a dangerous schism developing in a data-driven advertising-technology industry between the reason consumers share data and the way it is eventually used…

As Franchises Bounce Back, A Golden Market for Local Tech Surfaces

Steven Jacobs

As Franchises Bounce Back, A Golden Market for Local Tech Surfaces

A booming franchise sector presents a unique opportunity for hyperlocal firms to blend the scale and reach implicit in the digital marketplace with the granularity and flexibility afforded by mobile, social and other locally-driven platforms. What’s more, the franchise industry — with its unique combination of scale and fragmentation — could help provide a critical stepping stone for vendors to reach the small business market…

How Innovation in Payments Can Drive Local Marketing

Steven Jacobs

How Innovation in Payments Can Drive Local Marketing

The changes in payments that Seth Priebatsch foresaw three years ago are certainly underway, but it remains more of a revolution than an evolution. Street Fight caught up with the LevelUp CEO recently to talk about why he thinks transaction data is the foundation of the next big wave of innovation in the marketing industry…

The Sharing Economy Goes Behind the Counter

Steven Jacobs

The Sharing Economy Goes Behind the Counter

We tend to think of the sharing economy as a consumer movement that helps us hail a ride or find a place to stay. But the basic logic driving the shift will soon start to impact the more mundane aspects of small business, allowing merchants to enjoy some of the advantages of scale that their larger competitors do…

Yelp, Foursquare, and the Downsides of Mobile-First

Steven Jacobs

Yelp, Foursquare, and the Downsides of Mobile-First

In an era where the “mobile-first” motto borders on dogma for tech companies, the virtues of the desktop internet often are overlooked. While Yelp continues to benefit from desktop search, mobile-first Foursquare has struggled to sustain the explosive growth it saw early on — partly because its influence on the web ecosystem remains relatively weak…

Order Ahead, Confusion at Counter: Square’s New App, and the Problem of Leading From Behind

Steven Jacobs

Order Ahead, Confusion at Counter: Square’s New App, and the Problem of Leading From Behind

A clumsy experience with Square’s new app points to a deeper challenge facing the tech industry as it takes aim at the way we buy and sell goods in the real-world: technology companies, in all their glory, can only lead from behind. As companies like Square look to not only automate existing behaviors, but introduce new ones, the gatekeepers to the future of retail are on the main streets and in the malls across America.

Designing a New Value Proposition for Consumer Location Data

Steven Jacobs

Designing a New Value Proposition for Consumer Location Data

In a paper published earlier this month, a group of researchers tried to put a price tag on the personally identifiable information that flows from our mobile devices. The results shine a light on the unique challenges facing companies interested in mining location data, and the divergent paths of two tech companies that have built businesses around that information…

In OpenTable Deal, Signs of Deeper Convergence in Travel and Local

Steven Jacobs

In OpenTable Deal, Signs of Deeper Convergence in Travel and Local

Two recent acquisitions by Priceline and TripAdvisor offer an early look into a logic that could drive a more comprehensive consolidation of the travel and local technology sectors. Many of the structures built to help visitors navigate new cities — and implicitly for marketers to reach tourists — might quickly become obsolete…