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团购网站热催生市场研究新商机

Chadwick Matlin 2011年07月29日

Yipit网站遵循“聚合法则”,致力于团购网站市场研究,已经成为分析这个过热行业的重要信息来源。

    在网络世界,网站的门类并不重要;真正重要的是,有人创建了一个新的网站,专门用来跟踪某类网站的每日动态。对于政治新闻类网站来说,Slate公司的“每日报刊摘要”(Today's Papers)(愿其安息)、卓奇网上新闻(Drudge Report)和谈话要点备忘录(Talking Points Memo)已经占据了统治地位。大笑猫(LOLCats)很出名吧?但是如果没有IcanHazCheezburger,大笑猫什么都不是。谈到社交网络,我们永远也不能忘记FriendFeed(尽管Facebook于2009年收购了该网站)。

    这便是聚合法则:只要一样东西足够流行,一定会有人专门对其资讯进行整合与再消化。

    维尼修斯•文森提便是这样的人。2009年,他与人合作成立了Yipit网站,该网站的主要业务是聚合团购信息。每天早上,Yipit网站会浏览482家团购网站,其中既包括Groupon和LivingSocial等行业大佬,也包括一些名不见经传的小网站。它会收集所有团购信息,并按照用户自己定制的列表发送到用户电子邮箱中。文森提就像是在黑色星期五(指每年11月的第四个星期五,由于这一天是感恩节后开业的第一天,同时人们通常由此开始圣诞节大采购,很多商店都会举行促销活动——译注)之前整晚都在处理一大堆广告传单的家伙,只是为了让用户在第二天早上能收到“行动指令”。与其他著名的聚合网站相比,他或许已经找到了一种优于同行的全新商业模式。

    最初的Yipit与其他许多创业公司一样,跟我们现在看到的Yipit完全不同。文森提曾经对金融分析师这份职业抱有幻想,随后却发现这一行毫无意义,于是他退出金融行业,成立了自己的公司。靠着以前的积蓄,他花了几个月的时间学会了编程,并四处承接了一些小项目。说得好听点,这些项目可以说是Google +与About.me网站的初级形态(其实坦白来讲,应该只是误打误撞而已。)

    后来,他考虑建立一家名为Yipit的新网站,主要业务是收集纽约市家具店内正在热卖的各种家具信息。那次创业是一次“灾难”——这是文森提的原话(当然,其实我也这么认为)。但这场“灾难”后来却带来了回报——经济危机来临后,文森提将Yipit网站转变成一家聚合网站,专门收集经济不景气时期推出的优惠信息。2010年,Groupon横空出世,Yipit轻松转型,转而收集经济衰退时期的团购信息。(再也不用凌晨3点钟起床收集各种不同的优惠信息了)。文森提由此最终确定了自己的业务方向。

    目前,该网站用户已经达到270,000人(并以每天1,000人的速度增长),并已获得750万美元投资。该公司计划,在两年内将公司规模由目前的7人扩大到50人。不管眼下是否存在互联网泡沫,只要对形势有所了解的人都看得出,这家初创企业的发展势头在今年已经是不错的成绩。

    但是本文关注的重点并不是Yipit取得的成功,而是它奇特的商业模式。Yipit的大部分收入都来自于各团购网站的销售收入,但它也有其他盈利途径。那就是出售其对其所在行业的客观分析。

    去年冬天,Yipit开始收到团购网站发来的电子邮件,纷纷询问Yipit能否协助它们了解这一行业背后的真实情况。文森提解释道:“结果我们发现与这些团购网站合作的商家很可能也是其它团购网站主要的卖点。团购网站雇有专人每天早上监控其它团购网站,但监控效果并不是很好。事实上,有人一直在为消费者整理这些数据。这个人是谁呢?当然是我们了。”

    还记得吧,文森提曾经在私募股权公司工作过,他意识到,团购行业缺乏的并不是聚合网站,而是分析师。而文森提恰好深谙此道。于是,绕了一大圈,文森提又回到了原点,成为团购行业的“神经中枢”。Yipit博客已经成为分析这个过热行业的重要来源,甚至能像其他财经新闻记者一样,对Groupon的S-1文件进行深入分析。在解答“Groupon对小企业是否有害?”这个问题时,美国著名科技博客网站Techcrunch把他列为专家,并引用了他的分析。

    到去年6月份,Yipit开始以专家身份向委托人提供付费服务。此项服务的收入包括:每个月汇总报告的费用是495美元,私人分析员的价格是每个月1,895美元,而Yipit全部原始数据的价格是9,995美元。文森提表示,有数十家网站已经提出分析要求。“这项业务可能永远无法达到上百万美元,抱歉,我是说千万美元的规模。(不过确实能赚到些钱。)”

    当然,他们并不是唯一一家提供该类服务的公司。科技博客网站Inside Facebook对Facebook作为商业平台的使用情况进行了研究,并按每月230美元至300美元的价格出售研究结果。另外两家科技博客GigaOm和Business Insider也有自己的调研服务,而且面向更广泛的科技界受众。

    文森提表示,实际上,Yipit在获得额外的600万美元投资之前,便已经接近盈利了。他们能否扩大业务的规模还是未知数。尽管公司还未开始进行广告营销,但目前很可能依然存在许多尚待挖掘的商机。Groupon和它的山寨大军正因为业务模式单一而陷入困境,但Yipit却重新整合它们的原材料,形成了一个新的商业模式。这都是“聚合法则”的功劳。

    (翻译 刘进龙)

    On the Web, a genre isn't truly important until somebody creates a site that obsessively tracks its every update. Political news? Legitimized by Slate's Today's Papers (may it rest in peace), the Drudge Report and Talking Points Memo. LOLCats? Nothing without ICanHazCheezburger. Social networks? Let us never forget FriendFeed (even if Facebook, which bought it in 2009, has.)

    Call it the Law of the Aggregator: If something becomes popular enough, somebody will devotedly regurgitate it.

    Vinicius Vacanti is one of those somebodies. In 2009 he and a partner founded Yipit, a site that aggregates daily deals. Every morning Yipit scans 482 daily deal sites, from the biggies like Groupon and LivingSocial to the small outfits you've never heard of. It collects all those deals and sends you an email with a customized list of them. Vacanti is like the guy who spends the night before Black Friday buried in a mess of circulars so you have your marching orders the next morning. And, in the legacy of all great aggregators, he just might have figured out a better business model than the companies he's aggregating.

    Yipit's origin story is like those of many other startups', which is to say it has nothing to do with the startup as we now know it. After growing disillusioned with the meaninglessness of being a financial analyst, Vacanti dropped out to start his own company. Backed by his savings he spent months teaching himself how to code, peeling off little projects here and there that charitably could be called the precursors to Google+ (GOOG) and About.me (and more honestly would be called roadkill).

    At some point he started thinking of a new site called Yipit that would collect information on what kind of furniture was being sold in New York City furniture stores. This was a "disaster" - Vacanti's words, not mine. (Actually, also mine.) But the disaster paid off - once the recession hit, Vacanti turned Yipit into an aggregator of recession-pegged coupon deals. And then once Groupon took off in 2010, it was an easy shift to becoming an aggregator of recession-era daily deals. (Easy other than waking up at 3 a.m. to collect all the different deals.) Vacanti had finally found his business.

    That business now has 270,000 users (1,000 new ones every day), has raised $7.5 million in funding and plans to expand from its current seven employees to as many as 50 in the next two years. If you're student of this tech bubble that may or may not exist, this will sound about right for a startup in 2011.

    But this piece isn't about Yipit's relative success. It's about a quirk in its business model. Yipit, which makes most of its money from generating sales for the various daily deals sites, is also making money another way. It's selling its objective analysis on the very industry it's a part of.

    Last winter Yipit started getting emails from daily deal sites wondering if Yipit would allow them a peak behind the curtain. "It turns out that all these businesses that run on these daily deal sites are potential leads for all these other daily deals sites," Vacanti explained. "So they were hiring people to monitor all these daily deal sites every morning but they had trouble monitoring them that well. Guess who was organizing all that data already for our consumer side? It was us."

    Vacanti – who, remember, once worked for a private equity firm - realized that the daily deals industry wasn't just lacking an aggregator, it was lacking an analyst. And Vacanti knew how to be an analyst. In coming full circle, he's become the conscience of the daily-deals space. Yipit's blog has become a source for analysis of an overheated industry, treading as deep into Groupon's S-1 as some financial journalists did. TechCrunch cites him as an expert to answer the question, "Is Groupon Bad for Small Business?"

    And as of late June Yipit became an expert-for-hire. It'll cost you $495 per month for a summary report, $1,895 per for a personal analyst call and $9,995 for all of Yipit's raw data. Vacanti says dozens of sites have asked for the analysis. "Never going to be a million - sorry, a 10 million - dollar

    They're not the only specialized site to be doing this, of course. Inside Facebook sells its research into how Facebook is being used as a business platform for $230-$300 a month. And GigaOm and Business Insider have their own research services for a broader tech audience.

    Vacanti says that before Yipit took its extra $6 million in funding it was nearing profitability. It's unclear whether they'll be able to scale their business well - though considering they haven't even started to experiment with advertising, there's a good chance there's some revenue yet undiscovered. But while Groupon and its army of clones are stuck with a monotonous business, Yipit has reassembled their raw material into an entirely new model. Chalk it up to the Law of the Aggregator.

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