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Just rational risk management. Understand the system you're you're getting into, without illusions. That is, an ideal rational amoral self-interest. Frankly, I think that's a type error -- he's not sociopathic, but his corporation probably is. And that's just plain institutional constraint; startups already have a huge failure rate, even when acting in that kind of rational way. I am not a sociopath, but my corporation overall acts like one. With my support. Otherwise we court extra chance of failure. Source please?

It all depends on what your failure rate is. It'd have to be astronomically high to truly "approach zero". You're acting as if somehow VCs putting in millions of dollars are doing it for the express purpose of creating a fake valuation to screw employees. This is a spectacularly self-centered point of view.

The reality is that what you call "valuation leverage" doesn't matter. The valuation of an investment round is actually fairly meaningless if you really think about it. The only one that really matters is a sale or IPO. Besides, you could say the same thing about valuation leverage with an IPO. There are certainly counter-examples, I won't deny that. I've had this discussion here a million times before and I don't want to have it again. We're not EA, we're not forcing anybody to do anything, and I wager our average work week is 45 hours. But suffice to say, if you never want to work a minute over 40 hours, then don't.

Nobody is forcing you to take the job, make your intentions clear when you interview. A low failure rate can still work out to an EV of near-zero for the employee. The culprits here aren't VCs. The VCs are putting in the money the company needs to do its thing. Valuation isn't the problem - the attitudes of founders is. I've found that founders mentally grossly overestimate the value of the equity they're handing out. I've seen people demand 5-figure pay cuts for 0. The amount of equity being handed around by founders, even to early employees, is not high enough for anyone to seriously consider taking a pay cut.

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If you want me to take a pay cut, give me an amount of equity that might actually result in a meaningful exit. VC portfolio exits. Dilution, liquidation preferences and different stock class rights do indeed push it towards zero. No I'm not. I'm merely indicating that valuations are bogus. Implicit force is still force - just because you haven't mandated it doesn't mean it's not enforced via threat of firing and peer pressure dynamics.

Since there's a lot of assertion and not much data here, let's bring some in. Best result was stock-options worth less than the price. Worst was they owed me a paycheck. I had fun, and we had a good chance of making it big with all of them. Unfortunately: a I was not asked and b I probably would not have had that wisdom.

However, if I had been asked, but had not taken more stock, I'd still be a millionaire, just not a billionaire. A more accurate statement would be " To add some numbers to the discussion, there are currently startups listed on Angel List as hiring for full-time dev roles in the SF Bay Area. Note the bar has been set considerably lower than for the companies you listed e.

It's quite difficult for new hires to correctly gauge a startups long-term potential. After all, professional investors who by definition do this for a living routinely mis-calculate. Given this, it seems fairly sensible for potential hires to err on the side of caution. As repeatedly mentioned, a "meaningful exit" can make the founders extremely rich, and pay employees the equivalent of a routine annual bonus at a normal firm. Depends on your definition of meaningful exits, actual number of meaningful exits, and dilution between rounds.

Indeed if you put a margin of safety on valuing any arbitrary startup before they get traction - EV does hit on or near zero. That doesn't mean "Don't buy lottery tickets" isn't a good generally-applicable rule. Cashing out big on your startup might not be quite as rare as winning the Powerball, but it's still awfully unlikely. We're talking maybe 1 in 50 versus 1 in ,, so yes, the comparison to the lottery is useless. On top of that, the investment is higher than the lottery. Not at all. From my comment above: Since there's a lot of assertion and not much data here, let's bring some in.

Cashing out big is a 1 in 50 proposition? Well articulated, David. I also implore anyone reading this to use common sense and a huge risk-discount when evaluating the value of stock. As an employee the primary thing you should worry about is not whether the company is going to be x or x return, it's whether it's going to succeed at all and you are far better equipped to do this than you realise.

An investor's job is to catch the winners. An employee's job is to avoid the losers. As an employee, your main interest is not in what the top end of the stock may be, you don't have a portfolio, you aren't doing "black swan investments" you are investing your life and your time.

It makes sense for professional investors to go in even at ridiculous valuations because one win can carry 19 losses. As an employee you do not have a 20 strong portfolio. If you start young you have maybe five or six swings at bat and then you'll have a mortgage, kids, family. The return as an employee simply doesn't justify high levels of risk, the main job is just to ensure you're a part of something that works.

So how can you do that? Ask the questions you know make sense. Are you working for company run by founders who can sensibly and calmly articulate why they will succeed. Do the people around them also believe this and do you trust their judgement? Does the company have a justifiable burn rate and is it on track to make sustainable money in a market that's not unreasonably small?

Would you pay money for the product or do you feel your customers are being duped? If the answer to the above questions is yes then put value in your stock. If not then don't. If they are giving the same value of stock, isn't that less reward for the risk? I would hope that risk plays into the value of stock granted by employees ie: k and then 50k grants.

You are given the same value, but the person that got it at 10M will have a lot more money that the other one that joined at an evaluation of M. Duhck on Feb 21, While I agree with a few things here, I also agree you are very much a cynic and that can be good. I too am a cynic, but I also believe that the startup culture we have created has many more benefits than you seem to weigh in on.

I don't work at a startup to get rich, I work at a startup to figure out what I did wrong with my own business es in the past. I want to better myself, I want to see how other people succeed and fail, I want to see how I deal with failure without risking my own investment s like I have in the past. I think -- I hope -- that other people in the scene feel the same way. This is a learning experience, and so far I have learned that this approach to raising massive amounts of money for an inevitably doomed business is totally fucking flawed.

I will start a business within the next year, and like my previous business es I will do it with my own money, it will be cashflow positive at launch, and it will succeed because I will not make the same mistakes as others before me. I only know this because I have joined startups that have failed miserably, as I sat and watched the management teams, and board members struggle to cooperate. I hope others see this as the same opportunity. This is a chance for us to learn how to be better business people, engineers, and designers without taking the burden of risk.

Sure we will work hard, we will also play hard, and hopefully love our jobs. Some of us will move on to start a business of our own, and with the knowledge we gained from these experience, we get our value out of it. Its not the equity, or compensation, its learning. Rule 37 for becoming a better business person: Don't donate tens of thousands of dollars a year in charity to millionaires and billionaires.

When one works for substantially below-market salary and flimsy equity, that's often essentially what he is doing. I don't really know anyone aside from founders and first hires that take a pay hit to go work at a startup, most of my friends, and myself, make fair market salaries, but the learning opportunities are massive compared to the corporate alternatives. My favorite thing at LivingSocial and other startups is "unlimited time off". Yeah, good luck with that.

There's truth to these word, but it is also true that working for a big corporation can be soul crushing experience. Gmo on Feb 21, Guess what, there are plenty of companies that are neither startups nor big co. The grass is always greener on the other side, if its a rousing success then you are an idiot for not taking additional stock but when the shoe is on the other foot you are a fool for taking the stock. You should work for a company you are passionate about, take it's stock and assume it will be worth next to nothing and hope for the best.

You sound like the worst employee ever. Yes - realistic employees are the worst - they are so unexploitable! What companies really need are wide-eyed, earnest, new college grads who have no idea what goes on in the real world, and how much they are truly being screwed by their current startup. Those guys rock! Sadly - a few years of this turns them into realistic employees - and you need a whole new batch to replace them.

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Yeah, bad employee! Why arent you working harder to give shareholders a disproportionate share? They called 'dibs' on it before you did, so don't go around with sour grapes. Honest question: do you believe there any job where you are not being screwed? And do you believe you are an above average employee, or that you could be a founder yourself as it's just like getting in on Manhattan early? If so, why not work in that job rather than at a startup? Or why not found a startup rather than be an employee? Any job with monopoly pricing protections - a doctor or engineer at large established firms fit the bill.


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Once you have monopoly pricing - you are no longer the one being screwed, but rather the one doing the screwing. Do I think I'm above average? Depends on what you mean by average. There are zero barriers to entry in becoming a founder - so yes I'm founder material. As is everyone else. The question that actually needs to be asked is: How lucky can one get? I know several doctors and they all complain about how they are getting screwed--by the trial lawyers, the insurance companies, the hospital, the government, etc.

This may just be a situation where the grass looks greener. Being cynical and realistic doesn't mean you don't work hard and produce great work product. It just means that you demand to be compensated appropriately for the work you do, without being fooled by gimmicks. See, e. These folks live and breathe their work, yet are smart and realize that the only real way a company values your contribution is in the size of your bonus checks.

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That doesn't mean that culture, collegiality, perks, etc, are unimportant. Couldn't agree with this comment more. It stops when I walk out the door. There was no bantering of free lunches or beer bashes or, for that matter, stock options with him. All business and execution. I think that's pretty unfair. The guys who get screwed the hardest and have the fewest places to land are, quite often, the guys on the bottom.

What of his post is poor advice for those guys? Yes, founders take more risk--though "fuck, out of a job" is not a risk to be minimized. Founders do also get much more exposure and have a better chance of finding somewhere to land immediately if things go south, as well as foreknowledge of the southerly state of things and a head start on finding that escape route. What risk? Did they forget to incorporate and will be personally liable for the debts? The last startup I was at I had 33 times the equity a guy hired a month later did.

I didn't take anymore risk, I just negotiated better and first. Were your founders taking a salary from the jump? I suspect not; maybe your situation was out of the ordinary, but most founder types I know work pretty long hours well before seeing a dollar out of it. Opportunity costs are a form of risk; being paid a salary reduces or eliminates those opportunity costs and thus reduces risk.

You sound like management. I have not loled to a comment like this in years. Thank you. TallboyOne on Feb 21, I for one enjoy my employee beanbag chairs :. CleanedStar on Feb 21, He sounds like the worst employee ever as well as the best worker ever. Look at this person, using the word "employee". Obviously the suffix -ee is always passive and deprecating, and -er always active enhancing. Employer and employee. Trainer and trainee. Appointer and appointee.

Payer and payee. Which is why people who create wealth, workers, call themselves workers. This person uses a more derogatory, passive term, "employee", who I suppose should thank the heavens that "employer" is a job creator. This says more about them then about you. Karl Marx said in the Communist Manifesto that "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles".

If you're that cynical about a particular startup, you probably shouldn't join that startup. If you want a high salary and low risk in a traditional environment, there are plenty of dev jobs like that. What if you just like the people and product you are working on? It doesn't matter.

Demand your value or you're lowing the market for yourself and everyone else who does what you do. You only have so many productive days in your life. Wasting them being exploited is throwing away money you can never get back. You think actors don't enjoy doing movies? Of course they do, but they expect to be compensated for it.

You think sport players hate their sport and only play for the money? Of course not, they just recognize that without them the managers wouldn't be making any money so they demand their part. Never feel bad about demanding what you are owed. Of course it matters. Who wouldn't take a pay cut make 40 hours of their week more enjoyable? I wouldn't. I'll never enjoy working for someone else as much as I do working for myself so I would never take a pay cut unless it was to start my own company.

I can't see Living Social surviving if it really is short that much money owed to merchants. Why on earth would any new merchants join at this point knowing that Living Social is reasonably unlikely to be able to pay them? I'm a bit surprised the company is so nonchalant about running that far behind on merchant payables. An easy argument could be made that it should not have dipped in to merchant funds at all and all that cash should have been "restricted".

Also, the cheap shot on Groupon is pretty lame considering that Groupon has something like 2x the cash on had as it owes merchants if I'm reading Sep '12 Balance Sheet correctly. So yes we owe local merchants a lot of money, more than our Cash, and these Merchant Payables are most of our Current Liabilities as PrivCo surmised, but I will point out thta at least it's not as as great a portion of our Current Liabilities as Groupon's.

What's with the Groupon deflection spin? LS clearly screwed up here. Pointing fingers at Groupon as an even-worse-offender achieves literally nothing. I agree. You could even argue from a business perspective that Groupon's making a wiser business decision by using the time value of money more in its favor. You never would have thought by their office space that anything was wrong For those not familiar with the area, LS headquarters are almost literally a stones throw from the White House read : very expensive real estate. The "Hungry Academy" mention is easy to miss, but that's actually an entire floor unto itself.

So true, also surprised they didn't have a super bowl commercial. It's like the dot com hype all over again but with crazy short term revenue that's unsustainable. Kind of takes you back to What a weird, weird company. There was a time when fully half of the talented rubyists I knew were joining LivingSocial all at once. And none of them could tell me why the company needed such incredible firepower.

I guess they never figured it out. This is absolutely terrible news. I don't care if you "like the daily deals business model" or "hate the daily deals business model" - this is very very bad news for a lot of people. It will have impact on the rest of the industry and perhaps already has. We should be very disappointed that things have gone south in this way. We should work harder to build profit into our businesses and we should hope still that LivingSocial can pull itself above water Best wishes go out to everyone there Maybe I am being too insensitive, but I think that if the valuation for companies, which have been overvalued corrects itself, that is ultimately a good thing for the industry and society at large.

It means that resources are being freed up to work on more valuable things. It is also another case study from which this young industry can learn.


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  6. As for the employee and investors, they have taken a deliberate bet on the company and lost their stakes. I like your perspective on this. It is impossible to see the 'damage' done by capital applied or over applied to the wrong thing. So people don't really think about it. Some of us do work hard to build profitable businesses. I don't think that one bad investment deal is going to make a big difference.

    Creative destruction frees resources for more viable ventures. Can someone speak to the reliability of this site? Or provide a corroborating source?

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    Only tangentially related maybe, but I've noticed an increase in the 'scamminess' of a lot of daily deals lately. I don't know if that perhaps hints at the desperateness of daily deal companies to get new business in running such promotions, but it certainly dampens any enthusiasm I have for checking these sites again in the future. The marginal cost for LivingSocial on this is You're assuming it costs LivingSocial nothing to enlist a new business willing to offer a deal.

    I'm sure this is a huge cost for them, especially considering this is a "land grab" phase where there is fierce competition from other deal sites. Daily deal sites burn huge amounts of money on online advertising and a massive sales team. People talk about these companies as if they are tech yet there is such a huge people component that does not scale. Groupon at peak had over sales people which is insane! This isn't terribly surprising, they've been losing engineering talent left and right. It was pretty easy to infer that they were in trouble.

    To be fair though, I know that you and I! Wista on Feb 21, This is an example of a flawed business model, copied from Groupon, et al , then over-funded so that the economic viability of the Model does not surface as soon as it should. In the finance world these often called Ponzi schemes, just saying This headline is misleading, because it implies the common stock was worth something at one point.

    I was in their Seattle office and they seemed to be spending money on things needlessly. Can't say I am surprised. It doesn't mean that most of the advices here aren't just that PrivCo might be making up stuff stories. Not enough cash to pay local merchants? If I were a merchant on LivingSocial I would be cancelling any further deals and notifying my customers that they should be filing chargebacks.

    I doubt the credit card companies would let LivingSocial off as easily as their employees had to. Google must be relieved that they didn't end up 6 billion dollars out of pocket and holding the sinking ship that is Groupon. The marker is saturated, businesses have had enough of getting little in return and consumers are getting annoyed with their inboxes full of annoying offers. I honestly don't understand how these sites manage to raise any money at all, regardless of valuation.

    In the early years of Groupon it was seen as coupons moving online to create a new business model that was going to drive retail. The sites had off the charts growth, huge revenue dollars that were growing just as fast and the land was up for grabs. Even Google got suckered into this when it tried to buy Groupon for billions in cash, I can see where the investors were coming from, well at least before The fact that investors are putting up the money means there is some hope to the business.

    Not every startup gets that People seem to really focus on the negative. Startups are known to be bimodal outcomes. Either you retire from them or your income is down a few years. If you don't believe in a specific startup, don't work for them. If you don't believe in any startup, go work somewhere else. Oh, duh. If only they had beat Groupon to an IPO and been the ones to raise a warchest before the market realized these businesses were a terrible idea.

    Once this funding runs out they will probably be a great bargain basement acquisition for a handful of companies. You should never count on stock options being anything other than a nice bonus that likely won't materialize. If you're taking a significant haircut on salary or benefits in order to have a shot at a big payday, you're doing it wrong.


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    Join a startup because you think it'll be a fun ride, not to make a million dollars. I think one thing to remember when joining a company, particularly one of the higher profile startups that raise huge sums of money is that values really matter. Not mission statement values, but the actions that are consistently taken on a daily basis. Is your startup or employer profitable? Then why are they spending money on nice offices and expensive dinners and so on? I can almost guarantee that LivingSocial could have done with less than the million it raised had they valued frugality and breaking even more than being some giant media darling worth-a-billion company.

    Deficit spending can work longterm for governments, but not for companies or individuals. It's a real shame everyone got cleaned out, but they had to know this was going to happen at some point. The part where group deals fall down is the big margin that the sites are taking, this is the difference between a deal being a break even or loss leader and putting the business offering the deal in a big financial hole. These margins are required to pay for a large sales team to convince businesses that they need to run these deals.

    However, I am not associated with it in any way nor do I get any kickback. I've never heard of a kickback associated with it.

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    I do recommend paying the small charge to be a Red Velvet member of Goldstar, because if you do you can cancel tickets right up until showtime for a full refund. Even the box offices don't let you do that. I've used Gold Star several times when we were going to Las Vegas regulary in the early 's. I found 2 tours that we plan on getting through them for our trip in Sept.

    There is a ticket watcher that you can sign up for and they will send you an e-mail when new ticket dates are posted. Since we are so far out and tickets aren't available yet, I like that feature. I also signed up for Living Social, but I didn't like it. One coupon per day and you have to check everyday and many of the discounts offered we weren't interested in. It also doesn't cover my home area. I don't have one of those super cell phones with e-mail, so I would not be able to check daily once I get to Seattle.

    So i unsubscribed. I'll have to look at groupon again. I didn't really like it when I first looked at it so I didn't sign up. Tip: All of your saved places can be found here in My Trips. Log in to get trip updates and message other travelers. Profile Join. Log in Join. Watch this Topic. Browse forums All Browse by destination. Seattle forums. All forums.

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