More than 50 percent of Groupon’s business now mobile (video)

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This sponsored post is produced in association with Groupon.

For a business focused on connecting local merchants and consumers searching for the next best deal, it’s not surprising that Groupon has had to prioritize engaging people when they’re moving about in the real world.

At this year’s MobileBeat, we caught up with Jay Sullivan, Groupon’s SVP of Consumer Product, who told us that while the early days of Groupon were very PC-based and focused on email, the company is now over 50 percent mobile.

“And it’s over 27 percent driven by search,” said Sullivan, “so you have a specific intent, it’s local, it’s right at the point of need. So it’s really shifted from web to mobile, email to push, and all these things that take you out of your desk and into the world.”

He emphasized the importance of location as app developers compete in an increasingly crowded marketplace. “The trick is how you do you stand out right at the point where the user needs what you have and play your role in the user’s life in the right way — I think all app developers are wrestling with that.”

Watch the whole interview right here.


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Glassdoor: Microsoft CEO earned 615 times his median worker’s salary in 2014, Google CEO was paid $1

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Career website Glassdoor today released a new report focusing on comparing CEO pay to average worker pay in 2014 for large U.S. companies. As you might imagine based on previous studies that highlighted the gap between employee and executive salaries, the picture is not a pretty one.

The firm examined the ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay for companies listed in the S&P 500, finding that the average CEO pay was $13.8 million per year across all companies, the average median worker pay was about $77,800, and the average ratio of CEO pay to median worker pay was 204. In other words, on average, CEOs earn around 204 times what his or her median worker earns.

While CEO compensation is widely available for public companies, information about average worker pay is not. Glassdoor notes that new pay ratio disclosure rules adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) this month mean that will change in 2017, when public companies will be required to disclose the ratio. In the meantime, Glassdoor wants to use its voluntary and anonymous salary reports from employees to get as close as possible to accurate figures.

While the report digs into the biggest U.S. companies, we’re only interested in tech. It just so happens that many big names (Microsoft, Yahoo, Apple, Salesforce, HP, IBM, Nvidia, Seagate,, Facebook, and Google) either fall in the top 10 or bottom 10 companies.

Here are the 10 tech companies with the largest pay ratio:

Company Worker Pay CEO Pay Ratio
Microsoft $137,000 $84,308,755 615
Oracle $117,415 $67,261,251 573
Qualcomm $121,249 $60,740,592 501
Yahoo $137,011 $42,083,508 307
Apple $36,760 $9,222,638 251 $90,187 $21,966,094 244
Salesforce $151,512 $31,333,332 207
Hewlett-Packard $103,632 $19,612,164 189
IBM $106,184 $19,345,125 182
Computer Sciences Corp $87,476 $13,267,195 152

Here are the 10 tech companies with the smallest pay ratio:

Company Worker Pay CEO Pay Ratio
Altera $141,035 $7,248,710 51
Nvidia $127,317 $6,022,630 47
Xilinx $141,448 $6,471,480 46
Seagate Technology $108,939 $2,615,517 24
Garmin $72,491 $1,716,612 24
NetApp $130,033 $2,809,308 22 $114,352 $1,681,840 15
TripAdvisor $102,100 $1,207,960 12
Facebook $146,120 $610,455 4
Google $153,150 $1 0

Because Glassdoor only looked at CEO pay for publicly traded companies on the S&P 500, the list is not representative of CEOs in the broader U.S. market. Indeed, the firm notes that because executives at many small and mid-sized firms are paid dramatically less, looking at just the largest firms gives a misleading view of the ratio of CEO pay to worker pay.

Glassdoor lists three other limitations of the above findings:

  • CEO compensation is highly volatile from year to year. Most CEO pay at large companies is made up of bonuses and stock compensation that swing sharply from year to year.
  • While CEO pay for bonuses, stock options, and other pay beyond base salary is accurately reported in SEC filings, most workers underreport bonuses and stock options in surveys, such as Glassdoor’s salary survey. Most workers simply don’t know or don’t recall the details of non-salary compensation. As a result, total pay is likely underreported for workers, which could overstate CEO pay ratios.
  • The distribution of job titles for salary reports on Glassdoor does not necessarily represent the full distribution of positions at these companies. Companies for whom a disproportionate number of low-skilled (or high-skilled) workers have reported their pay on Glassdoor may have median worker pay that is biased downward (or upward), especially as companies don’t typically disclose their actual distribution of job titles.

Median worker compensations (adjusted for inflation into 2014 dollars) are based on Glassdoor salary reports for U.S. employees between January 1, 2009 through August 17, 2015. In some cases, two or more CEOs were reported for 2014, so Glassdoor chose the CEO who served for the majority of the year.

You can read the full report from Glassdoor here: CEO Pay vs. Median Worker Pay

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Salesforce redesigns Sales Cloud with the Lightning Experience, launches Financial Services Cloud

The Lightning Experience redesign of the Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Salesforce today announced the Lightning Experience, a major redesign effort spanning the company’s applications and devices. The effort starts with a revamp of the desktop version of Sales Cloud, Salesforce’s core web-based customer-relationship management software.

Salesforce today also unveiled the Financial Services Cloud, a new piece of software that will follow the principles of the company’s Lightning Experience. Financial Services Cloud is Salesforce’s first vertical-specific software that professionals can use to keep track of their relationships with clients, so it’s a big deal for the company.

Salesforce was a pioneer in selling web-based software, and the company has gradually expanding its offerings beyond sales. Last year, for instance, the company entered the business intelligence market with Salesforce Analytics Cloud. Diversification provides the company with the potential to bring in revenue in more markets.

Even so, it’s not surprising to see Salesforce finally redesign Sales Cloud and other products. Sales Cloud has looked the same for a long time — a spokesman told VentureBeat that the last redesign happened 10 or 15 years ago. It’s safe to say that this was past due.

The new home screen in the redesigned Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Above: The new home screen in the redesigned Salesforce Sales Cloud.

Image Credit: Salesforce

The new Sales Cloud suggests next actions to advance relationships with contacts, and it shows news about top contacts. It also allows users to send files and emails to contacts — there’s no need to use external services to do those things anymore. Pipeline Dashboard is a new tool for visualizing the status of deals.

Salesforce is introducing the Lightning Design System to provide CSS to third-party designers, so they can can create apps that conform to the new look.

As for the new Financial Services Cloud, Salesforce developed it in conjunction with Advisor Group, Northern Trust, and United Capital, according to a statement. Financial advisors will be able to use it to stay on top of the goals of their clients, and they will be able to collaborate with clients with the new Private Client Communities feature.

Advisor Software, Informatica, and Yodlee have already developed extensions for the new application, which is now available in preview before becoming generally available in February 2016.

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Coursera raises $49.5M to help it expand to Latin America, China, and India

Stanford University's campus is seen from atop Hoover Tower in Stanford, California May 9, 2014. Picture taken May 9, 2014. To match Special Report USA-STARTUPS/STANFORD REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (UNITED STATES - Tags: EDUCATION BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY) - RTR4HHTM

Coursera wants to accelerate its global expansion, so it went out and raised some more cash. The online education service has raised $49.5 million in the first closing of its Series C round of fundraising. The company expects to bring in an additional $10.5 million by this fall to bring its total to $60 million.

The new round of financing is led by one of Coursera’s original investors New Enterprise Associates. Other firms participating include Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, International Finance Corporation, and Times Internet Limited, which is a subsidiary of Bennett, Coleman and Company Limited. Coursera has also revealed that GSV Asset Management and Learn Capital will be participating in the second close.

With 75 percent of its learners from outside the United States, Coursera is in need of expanding its availability. That being said, the company will use the new funds to address “outsized demand for high quality, accessible learning” in Latin America, China, and India.

To help accomplish part of this goal, Coursera will likely tap its connection with Times Internet Limited, which is associated with Times of India and other related media properties. Coursera says that India is one of its fastest growing audiences, so the best way to really be one with the country is to partner with one of its biggest publications. It’ll be able to derive content from that and should be able to better assess what companies are looking for from workers.

“We want Coursera to be the place people go to learn, for their careers and throughout their lives,” said Rick Levin, Coursera’s chief executive. “To accomplish this, we are determined to develop the best and most accessible learning experience anywhere.”

Founded in 2012, Coursera offers 1,100 courses to nearly 15 million learners worldwide. It has tapped top universities to participate, including Yale University, John Hopkins University, the University of Edinburgh, Peking University and others. It’s also working with companies such as Google, Instagram, BNY Mellon, Qualcomm, and Cisco.

The company has now raised approximately $135 million in funding to date.

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Friendsy Gets $500k To Grow Its .edu-Only U.S. Tinder Rival

Friendsy Stay long enough in tech and you’ll see the same ideas being recycled, usually with a slight twist. To wit: Friendsy, a student-only social network that’s aiming to bringing Tinder-style meet-up ease to existing communities of U.S. college students. Like TheFacebook of yore, it requires users have a .edu email to sign up. While its app also includes the now ubiquitous Tinderish… Read More

Alibaba’s Cloud Computing Group Says Its New Artificial Intelligence Platform Is China’s First

cloud computing Aliyun, the cloud computing unit of Alibaba Group, is launching an artificial intelligence platform that it claims is the first in China. Called DT PAI, the service combines algorithms used by Alibaba with machine and deep learning techniques and presents them in a simple drag-and-drop interface. Aliyun says developers can use DT PAI to predict user behavior without having to write new code. Read More

Amazon Bans Flash Ads from Site

The e-commerce giant announced a change in its ad policy to eliminate Flash ads on the site starting September 1. The Flash ban aims to ensure customers have consistent experiences on Amazon. Recent browser setting updates from Google Chrome as well as existing browser settings from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari that limit Flash content displayed on Web pages, led the company to make the move.

LINE for Android updated with big focus on low-cost calling

Reuters / Toru Hanai

LINE, Japan’s popular mobile messaging app that has been struggling to grow beyond its home turf, today released an updated Android app (version 5.4.0) with a new focus on low-cost calling.

The service now known as LINE Out, which lets users make calls to mobiles and landlines anywhere in the world “at competitive rates” from inside the app, has been rebranded from LINE Premium Call.

The company also wrote on its blog that the calling feature has been given a “major overhaul to make it easier than ever to use”, so the move to a simpler and more memorable name makes sense. LINE Out will likely sound familiar to anyone who has used Skype’s similar feature (previously called SkypeOut).

The update is likely part of a wider push by the company to appeal to a broader international user base after its Q2 earnings report at the end of July revealed it was struggling to grow outside Japan. Its revenues were also down quarter-on-quarter for the first time.

The company is likely looking to grow its paying phone calling customers — many existing users already have credit cards linked to their accounts — it could take some of the pressure off its other revenue channels. LINE currently makes most of its money through stickers ($75 million in its first year) and in-app purchases within its gaming titles.

LINE Out has also been given more prominence within the app, now available as a “Calls” tab from the main horizontal menu bar alongside the tabs Friends, Chats, and Timeline.

LINE's new Android app update

Above: LINE’s new Android app update

But the calling out experience still isn’t integrated entirely smoothly. Because users will oftentimes be calling friends or contacts on their mobile or landline who are not LINE themselves, there is some manual setting up required to make it all work.

From within settings, you will have to “sync up friends’ phone numbers registered inside your phone’s contacts to make easy and low-cost calls to friends who aren’t using LINE yet.” For LINE users who have already added phone numbers to their profiles, obviously this additional step won’t be required. But then when free voice calls are available within the app over an Internet connection, it seems unlikely that many LINE Out calls will be made to existing LINE contacts.

A built-in keypad is also accessible through an icon at the top right of the app’s home screen for users who want to dial a number “the old-fashioned way.”

While this update in and of itself may not seem especially notable, it is likely to be the first of many in what will emerge as a wider attempt to offer paid services that attract international users, and that help LINE to differentiate itself from more successful competitors like WhatsApp.

As further evidence of its continued push into new markets, earlier this month the company launched a ‘Lite’ version of its mobile messaging app globally (clearly aimed at users who don’t enjoy such fast speeds and generous data consumption as in Japan), as well as a new app that lets friends share their current locations in real time.

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