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Foursquare and Groupon pivot (slightly) in order to stay in business




Groupon BasicsPivot is the fancy word start-ups use to label a sudden but noticeable change in a company’s direction. The pessimist could say it’s a sign of failure – the need to change in order to stay in business. (…looks at post title… hmm….) The optimist would say it’s a sign of a great leadership and success. It takes a brave heart to change your business model in the middle of the stream and for some it was the turning point that led to them becoming a household brand.

For example, Groupon started out as The Point – a kind of kickstarter for charity projects. But when a group used the site to gather enough people to get a group discount for a product a new idea was born. It took awhile but eventually Groupon was all about “group” buying. If enough people are interested, the price goes down.

Now, Groupon is moving the needle in another direction – selling the basics. Need 12 Axe deodorants or 6 boxes of Benadryl – Groupon has you covered. And you’ll even get free shipping over $25. If you’re buying in bulk you’ll have no problem hitting that number. There’s only a handful of products in the category at the moment but you can see where this is going. Costco charges a membership fee, Groupon doesn’t. They’ll even give you 5% back in Groupon bucks if you buy now. Only one issue. I checked a few items and they’re a lot cheaper at Walmart.com. Maybe it just feels like a deal because you can load your cart with only one click.

I can’t see people giving up Amazon, Walmart and Costco in favor of a few SKUs at GrouponGoods but kudos to the company for trying something new.

SwarmFoursquare is also trying something new – or rather something old. They’re going back to square one with a spin-off app called Swarm.

With Swarm, you can find out if your friends are nearby and arrange to meet them at the same location for making merry.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because Foursquare used to be all about checking in to places and meeting up with friends. Now that’s going to be Swarm’s job.

Foursquare is going to move further into the discovery space. You’ll be able to ask the question, where’s the best Italian restaurant within ten miles of here and you’ll get answers from people you trust. That’s big news for mobile / local advertisers.

Swarm is due to hit phones in a couple of weeks. You can sign up here to be notified. The new Foursquare will debut this summer.

Which pivot do you think will still be in effect a year from now? I’m betting, neither one.