Street Fight Daily: Thumbtack Is Now a Unicorn, Amazon Leverages Existing On-Demand Workforce

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

Thumbtack Becomes Latest Unicorn, Raises $125 Million at $1.25 Billion Valuation (Forbes)
Thumbtack, which provides online marketplaces for local professionals like roofers and photographers, announced that it has raised its fourth round of funding in two years, with the latest investment coming in at $125 million.

Editor’s Take: The Apps vs. Browser Debate Is a Distraction (Street Fight)
Noah Elkin: The venerable apps vs. mobile web debate continues to rage on, but it’s largely a distraction for local merchants. Business owners need to understand the changing media landscape, but their time and dollars are better spent on marketing fundamentals, rather than investing in the increasingly difficult and crowded race to acquire, retain, and monetize app users.

Amazon Taps ‘On-Demand’ Workers for One-Hour Deliveries (Wall Street Journal)
Amazon has quietly rolled out a program, Flex, in its hometown of Seattle to ferry merchandise to customers’ homes using a network of independent contractors. (Subscription required)

Case Study: Coffee Shop Leverages Dayparting to Perk Up Afternoon Lull (Street Fight)
Walk into any coffee shop in the late afternoon and you probably won’t have a problem finding an open table. That afternoon lull can be tough to overcome. At Sunshine Coffee Roasters in Northern California, owner Mike Doherty’s approach adds a shot of technology to established customer outreach tactics.

Walmart Doubles Down on Online Grocery Shopping with Curbside Pickup (TechCrunch)
Walmart is announcing an expansion of its online grocery shopping service with launches in eight additional markets, as well as plans for a continued rollout to several more regions in the months ahead.

Why Spends Most of Its Ad Money on Traditional Media (Digiday) founder Marc Lore said that his ecommerce startup differentiates from Amazon by appealing to millennials. To raise brand awareness, however, the company is pouring 90 percent of its ad spend into decidedly traditional media. Lore said that TV, print, and radio may not produce immediate results, but have “long-tail” benefits.

Yahoo CEO Says Better Ads Will Prevent Ad Blocking (Wall Street Journal)
Marissa Mayer acknowledged that Yahoo has been actively discussing how to deal with ad blocking, and she’s often asked personally by people outside the company whether they should download ad blockers. She tells them not to. “I really believe that commercials and ads make content better,” she said. “The experience on the Web [without ads] becomes a lot less rich in my experience.”

Are Marketers Finally Getting the Hang of Location-Based Mobile Ads? (Adweek)
During a panel about programmatic advertising, mobile advertising company xAd talked about its recent work for Google’s search app as an example of how some initial hiccups led to successful place-based mobile ads.

PayPal’s New Chip Card Reader Accepts Apple and Android Pay (The Next Web)
PayPal Here, the company’s Square-like transaction system, now accepts chip cards and NFC payments in the U.S. PayPal announced a new card reader with support for Apple Pay and Android Pay in addition to old-school magnetic swipes.

As Online Data Theft Escalates, Banks Look to Retailers to Bear the Losses (New York Times)
Retailing has become a rich hunting ground for online criminals. As the size and scope of such attacks have grown, so have the losses, which have been largely shouldered by financial institutions. Now, some small banks and others want the retailers that suffer data breaches to pay.

How Dunkin’ Donuts and Airbnb Are Turning Google Searches into Experiences in NYC (Adweek)
Users who search for “coffee near me” on mobile will see an ad that says, “Find the fastest coffee.” Clicking the ad brings up Google Maps, which auto-populates the user’s location and points to the right Dunkin’ Donuts to patronize. Airbnb also has a Google Maps-facilitated campaign, “Hosted Walks,” meant to help New York City visitors see hidden gems, not just the usual tourist traps.

Airbnb to Double Bookings to 80 Million This Year (Reuters)
Airbnb is expected to double its nightly bookings this year, a sign that the home and room renting site’s battles with regulators have yet to dent its rapid global growth.

Blue Calypso Settles Suit, Rolls Out Tech with Yelp (Dallas Business Journal)
Yelp and Blue Calypso, a mobile solutions developer, have entered into an agreement that dismisses the patent infringement battle in which the two were entangled for roughly three years. As part of the agreement, Yelp plans to explore the distribution of Blue Calypso’s beacons to its customer base.

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