Kara Swisher

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LivingSocial Buys Urban Escapes, As Social Discount Market Heats Up

LivingSocial, the No. 2 social local deals start-up, announced today that it has bought Urban Escapes, a social adventure company.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

LivingSocial now has about 10 million subscribers to its discount offers online, where it competes head-to-head with Groupon.

Both companies have been garnering huge fundings, which is being used in a race for dominance in the space.

After the recent $135 million funding of Groupon that valued the Chicago-based company at upward of an eye-popping $1 billion, LivingSocial announced to that it had raised a more modest $14 million in a Series C round.

The Washington, D.C. start-up had raised $25 million in a Series B venture financing only a month before that. And it raised $10 million on top of that since 2008.

In addition, big companies have become focused on the fast-growing arena, such as recent acquisition interest from Yahoo in Groupon.

Here is the official press release about the latest LivingSocial deal:

LivingSocial Redefines Social Adventure with Acquisition of Urban Escapes

Unique, Exclusive Experiences Now Offered to LivingSocial’s Network of 10 Million Subscribers

Washington, D.C.–October 19, 2010–Leading social shopping site LivingSocial (www.livingsocial.com) today announced the acquisition of social adventure company Urban Escapes. LivingSocial will now be able to exclusively offer its 10 million subscribers-strong worldwide community a host of diverse, fun and unique adventures and experiences, produced by a team of on-the-ground experts.

“By working closely with merchants in all of our markets, LivingSocial has helped thousands of people across the country experience fun and exciting things to do in their neighborhood,” said Tim O’Shaughnessy, CEO and Co-Founder of LivingSocial. “With the acquisition of Urban Escapes, we will now have the ability to help curate some amazing experiences and adventures exclusively for our members.”

From “Zen Escape Yoga Hikes” to “Boulder and Brew Tours™,” Urban Escapes redefines social adventure, and its unique itineraries promote a fun and active lifestyle and a chance to escape the day-to-day rat race. Urban Escapes staff will work directly with LivingSocial representatives in five introductory markets designing and creating one-of-a-kind experiences and adventures for LivingSocial customers.

“People who use LivingSocial are already looking for fun, new things to do in the area they live or where they’re visiting,” said Maia Josebachvili, founder and president of Urban Escapes. “We’re passionate about organizing experiences you could never arrange on your own and this acquisition is the perfect opportunity for us to expand these completely unique, guided experiences around the globe.”

As the premiere local activity discovery engine, LivingSocial lets anyone find restaurants, shops, activities and services popular in their area at a savings of 50% to 70%. Handpicked adventures from Urban Escapes offer unique adventures and experiences at affordable prices to the LivingSocial community.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work