GoNabit, the Middle East’s own website for daily deals, has been acquired by the US firm LivingSocial, in a landmark deal for the region?s fledgling Internet industry.
GoNabit offers group buying deals for businesses that include restaurants, salons, and hotels.
LivingSocial operates a similar group-buying model, and is the second-largest player in the US market. The acquisition marks LivingSocial’s entry to the region.
The acquisition of GoNabit is one of the major deals since Yahoo?s acquisition of Maktoob for $164 million in 2009.
GoNabit operates in the UAE, Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan, and have saved consumers more than $5m in the past year. They have about 200,000 subscribers who are offered a daily deal ranging from 50 to 90 per cent off the regular price at local spas, eateries, adventure activities, events, gyms and salons.
Canadian Dan Stuart co-founded GoNabit in Dubai along with Iranian Sohrab Jahanbani in January 2010 but launched the site several months later.
Dan Stuart confirmed that the deal had taken place but declined to specify the value. He added he would remain with the company after the acquisition, and plans to launch GoNabit across the region. He also added that the new alignment will open up an online world of opportunity for present and future GoNabit subscribers who can also avail LivingSocial?s deals.
The biggest deal for GoNabit was an offer for discount rooms at the Banyan Tree hotel in Ras Al Khaimah. The company earned $360,000 in transactions.
Other group buying websites
Group buying websites typically sign up a range of businesses to offer discounts, and take a percentage of the revenue.
Ever since the success of Groupon, there has been an explosion of similar sites in the region. In the year 2010, Groupon had rejected a takeover by Google. The search giant since then launched its own products. Now Facebook is also in the race.
As many as 20 group-buying websites are believed to have been launched in the Middle East.
Cobone.com is second major player in the region. The key backer, Jabbar Internet Group, have complete ownership of the firm. Cobone was launched in August and has 600,000 subscribers spread across five countries.
Cobone?s founder and chief executive, Paul Kenny, said ?We?re focused on growing our company in the Middle East. Our goal is to increase our staff and offices.” Cobone claims it has sold 214,000 coupons, saving consumers $11.2m.
Ben Flanagan said that group-buying model was sustainable as a marketing channel for businesses.
LivingSocial also acquired Ensogo, a deal site in Thailand and the Philippines, and DealKeren, an Ensogo company based in Indonesia. LivingSocial has also launched its operations in the Netherlands.
Source: The National, Gulf News