Month: September 2017

‘Cash Cab’ sans cash

So… just a cab? Yeah, but this one’s different. Earlier this month, a group of ex-Udacity employees announced they were creating yet another new self-driving taxi company called Voyage.

Wait, isn’t Udacity that site that does online courses?

Yep. But these particular employees were the ones behind their open source, self-driving car curriculum, plus they already have working prototypes, so it’s not like they’re starting from scratch (they promise they’re not using any of their students’ code).

And here’s the twist: It’s gonna be free

Or at least, that’s what they’re “aiming for,” according to tweets from CEO, Oliver Cameron. He’s hinted that Voyage has a secret weapon up their sleeves in the form of free, ad-supported transportation.

Granted, it’s speculative but, it would likely work in the same way that Facebook and Google offer “free” services to people in exchange for targeted advertising.

So imagine a self-driving car that picks you up at home, shows you an ad for a new lunch place next to your office, and then drops you off at work.

Ridesharing apps collect tons of data on us, and it’s not a huge stretch to picture a brand paying good money for our attention while we’re locked in a comfortable box.

Worth it?

Extreme couponing gets more extreme

Harland Clarke, an “integrated marketing and payment solutions” holding company based in San Antonio, purchased online coupon provider RetailMeNot for about $630m.

Hold on a sec… that was way too dry. Let’s try again.

You know RetailMeNot? The company you see every time you Google “Banana Republic coupon codes?” Apparently, they’re worth a ton of money, and Harland wants to buy them to become even more coupon-y.

Is that even possible?

RetailMeNot makes money by using SEO and cookies to connect bargain hunters with brands, using what’s known as last-click attribution.

Which means whenever someone buys something after seeing one of their coupons, they claim credit for the sale, thereby making an affiliate fee.

Harland — which also owns the company responsible for those annoying Redplum inserts — wants to use RMN to build on their expansive offline coupon channels, where it’s a lot harder to track who buys what.

Which is why Harland Clarke got a great deal

4 years ago when they went public, RetailMeNot was valued at $1.5B. But with declining monetization, their value dropped, and they went from a unicorn to a “unicorpse.”

 

Now, the new company will combine their online and offline advertisers, crank up some coupons, and start saving everyone some money, one piece of junk mail at a time.

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