Street Fight Daily: Square Makes Loans, Why Microsoft Invested in Foursquare

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A roundup of today’s big stories in hyperlocal publishing, marketing, commerce, and technology

Square_Logo_PortraitWith Square Capital, Square Begins Offering Controversial Merchant Cash Advances (Recode)
Square’s search for new revenue streams is pushing it toward a controversial industry: Merchant cash advances. The financial product, which operates outside of the regulation of loans, is often a last resort for financing for business owners who either have bad credit, can’t get a bank loan, or can’t get a bank loan fast enough.

Political Spending May Stem the Tide, But Legacy Media Is Losing Its Grip (Street Fight)
Borrell Associates predicts that political spending on marketing is set to balloon in the next four years, growing from 120 billion in 2012 to well over 950 billion in 2016. The overwhelming majority of that money will still be spent traditional media — namely, television —with only a fraction spent online.

It’s Now Obvious Why Microsoft Invested Millions In Foursquare (Business Insider)
Microsoft will use Foursquare location data in Cortana, a Siri-like voice assistant for Windows Phones. Cortana will be part of a new software update for Windows Phones that will launch this spring. While Foursquare didn’t directly say Cortana drove Microsoft to invest, it says partnerships like this are why the two companies paired up.

6 Call Monetization Platforms for SMBs (Street Fight)
Phone leads may not be glamorous or trendy, but they’re the backbone of local marketing strategy for millions of small businesses in the professional services, travel, auto, and insurance industries. $68 billion is spent annually on localized ads to generate these calls. Here are six call monetization vendors that businesses can work with.

Uber Says it Doesn’t Discriminate by Neighborhood in Chicago (GigaOm)
Uber has published a blog post explaining the difference that median income makes on the company’s service in Chicago. Beauty might be in the eye of the beholder here, but the study itself reinforces how much today’s data-driven companies know about their businesses.

Growing Mobile Usage Bodes Well For Social Media, Ecommerce Names (Barons)
Cantor Fitzgerald’s Youssef Squali has a note out today analyzing U.S. mobile data from comScore in January. He notes that the data demonstrate healthy growth in smartphone usage (both visitation and engagement) for the majority of the big advertisement and ecommerce players in his universe at the start of the year versus the fourth quarter of 2013.

Time For SMBs To Tackle – Or Be Tackled By – Online Reviews (SearchEngineLand)
Wesley Young: There’s no doubt that online reviews play an increasingly central role in the consumer path to purchase. Yet, despite this clear trend in consumer shopping behavior, a surprising majority of small business owners continue to ignore or delay development of an online reviews strategy.

Zumper Raises $6.5 Million for Apartment Rentals (Recode)
Apartment rental search and tools site Zumper today said it had raised $6.5 million led by Kleiner Perkins, with NEA and Dawn Capital. After years of stagnation due to the network effects and good-enough nature of Craigslist, apartment rental startups are starting to attract big checks from venture capitalists.

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