LivingSocial Acquires Urban Escapes, Expands Into Trip Planning

LivingSocial announced the acquisition of New York-based trip planning company Urban Escapes today. Chief executive Tim O’Shaughnessy says the acquisition will help the company offer its 10 million subscribers around the world opportunities to take advantage of fun things to do in their own communities.

LivingSocial is a social shopping company that currently is focusing on expanding its crowdsourced coupon service, Deals. Earlier this year, it  raised $14 million to help expand its Deals service, expanding into the United Kingdom this summer. Now O’Shaughnessy says the company is in about 100 markets, although Urban Escapes is only in five.

“We’re all about providing people with cool things to do with a great value. Sometimes we’ll work with (Urban Escapes) as a Deal and sometimes, they’ve got their Urban Escapes property and site and they’ll continue driving ahead,” O’Shaughnessy tells us. Facebook will fit into LivingSocial’s leveraging of Urban Escapes in ways similar to how Deals utilizes the platform — by allowing people to share to their stream, he adds.

The acquisition provides an opportunity for LivingSocial to provide services for people in a more “custom” way, O’Shaughnessy says, noting that Urban Escapes is key to this new strategy.

Facebook will fit into LivingSocial’s leveraging of Urban Escapes in ways similar to how Deals utilizes the platform — by allowing people to share to their stream,. “I wouldn’t say that this is the start of an acquisition stream. (But) I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that there would be more in the future,” he adds.

The companies will begin working together maintaining somewhat separate identities, he tells us, but as time goes on staffing will increase to accommodate Urban Escape-like ventures in more of LivingSocial’s markets. Staffing increases are likely to take off in 2011, O’Shaughnessy says.

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