LivingSocial, in a battle with Groupon and other deal providers to gain (and keep) market share, lost an eye popping $558 million beyond its $245 million in net earnings, according to a regulatory filing by Amazon.com, which owns 31 percent of the company. The filing was written about in today’s Washington Post.
The Post article notes that LivingSocial has 4,900 employees and claims more than 60 million members worldwide in 647 markets across 25 countries. Its vouchers grossed $750 million.
Here are the accounting details. Its vouchers grossed $750 million, giving LivingSocial net earnings of $245 million. It had operating expenses of $686 million. It also had other expenses associated with various acquisitions and stock compensation of $117 million, resulting in the $558 million loss.
In our view, companies such as LivingSocial (and Zynga and Groupon et al) aren’t really tied to earning immediate profits. The gamble is whether their massive spending leads to building a solid foundation for growth — and profits — going forward.