Dubai: Washington-based LivingSocial, an online discount trove of social experiences at reduced prices, is spending millions of dollars to acquire Dubai-based GoNabit, a discount online gateway to adventure in four Middle East countries.
Financial terms of the multi-million dollar deal have not been revealed, but landing a 13-month-old GoNabit has made history in the Middle East on two fronts, LivingSocial asserted.
"A milestone in the development of the Middle East's group-buying industry, the announcement marks the first large-scale acquisition of an e-commerce company in the region, as well as LivingSocial's entry to this market," the US firm said in a statement.
LivingSocial confirmed that it also snapped up two other consumer deal online portals, Ensogo in Thailand and Philippines as well as DealKeren, an Ensogo firm located in Indonesia. The acquisitions coincide with LivingSocial's launch yesterday of Daily Deals in the Netherlands, another vehicle through which consumers can work together to find bulk online deals on entertainment, personal health and adventure activities.
Canadian Dan Stuart (pictured above) co-founded GoNabit in Dubai with Iranian Sohrab Jahanbani in January 2010 and launched the site several months later.
Since then, GoNabit has amassed roughly 200,000 subscribers who are offered a daily deal of up to 50 to 90 per cent off regular prices at local spas, eateries, adventure activities, events, gyms and salons — if a set number of group buyers of the deal buy in to reach the tipping point for vendors to agree, the deal is good to go.
Subscribers usually have nine months to redeem their discounted purchases.
GoNabit estimates that its subscribers throughout the UAE and in three other Middle East countries have saved more than $5 million via bulk buying online deals.
"It's been a long process for us," Stuart told Gulf News Monday. "You never know if people are willing to use their credit card online. It was market testing."
The new alignment, he said, will open up an online world of opportunity for present and future GoNabit subscribers who can now tap into LivingSocial which operates in 300 markets around the world and boasts more than 30 million subscribers.
"It will be really great exposure for the [regional] businesses we work with," Stuart said. "We really feel like we will be an integral part of the business -- that was key for us."
In Washington, LivingSocial said that GoNabit reflected similar business philosophies making the new acquisition a good fit.
"As with previous acquisitions, LivingSocial has again chosen to align with local companies that possess similar values and ways of doing business," said Tim O'Shaughnessy, CEO and co-founder, LivingSocial in a statement.