The Great Hope of the D.C. Startup Scene Is About to Be Extinguished

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 13 2013 1:32 PM

Won't Someone Put LivingSocial Out of its Misery?

LivingSocial has been "temporarily down" for 24 hours and counting.

Screenshot /

Once upon a happy time, LivingSocial was a thriving daily-deals startup, a challenger to Groupon in the red-hot daily-deals business and the great hope of the D.C. tech scene. Mayor Vincent Gray was a fan; an IPO was in the works.

Unfortunately, the entire model turned out to be flawed. Groupon’s IPO flopped, LivingSocial’s was scrapped, and both companies were hit by layoffs. Groupon responded by dropping its fees, squeezing LivingSocial hard and apparently poaching a bunch of its customers. Groupon still may not be making much money, but it’s now so far ahead in the daily-deals game that there’s really no one in second place. But that apparently didn’t stop LivingSocial from throwing a Halloween party this year with a “seven deadly sins” theme—and decorating the “greed” room with dreidels. (The company later apologized.)


In any case, it’s hard to imagine a worse time for LivingSocial’s entire site to go down—and stay down for an incredible 24 hours and counting, despite a message on its home page claiming it's just "temporarily down for maintenance" and that "this won't take too long." The outage is not the result of a malicious attack, the company assured AllThingsD’s Jason Del Rey. (Who would bother at this point, honestly?) I guess that leaves ... what? Sheer incompetence?

Hey, LivingSocial: You guys gave it your best shot. You had some good times there for a while. But maybe the next time you’re inches from bankruptcy, you should go ahead and pull the plug rather than sucking up another $110 million in life support. Come to think of it, why not do it right now? I'm sure many of your employees are very smart people, with far more worthwhile projects ahead of them. And I think the rest of the world has already learned to go on without you.

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.



Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.


Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.