LiveWorld INC Ends Contractual Relationship With eBay INC
10 June 2013
San Jose, CA, & New York – May 24, 2013 – LiveWorld, Inc. (OTC Markets: LVWD), today announced that it is focusing on its broader social media presence and will spend fewer resources on the development and deployment of its Community Center solution set. Consistent with this transition, the company expects its contractual relationship with eBay to end during the summer 2013.
“We have had a wonderful working relationship over the years, and we look forward to their continued success,” said David Houston, Chief Financial Officer of LiveWorld. “This transition is consistent with our continuing business shift from solutions based on our proprietary central community web platform to solutions focused on the greater social web.”
We maintain a positive outlook for 2013, and our backlog as of April 1st was approximately $9.0 million for the remainder of the year, as compared to the $8.3 million in backlog for the same period in 2012. The $9.0 million includes revenues from eBay of approximately $621,000 as the associated contract is expected to end June 30, 2013. The $8.3 million in backlog for 2012 included approximately $1.7 million from eBay. We are continuing our strategy to transition from solutions focusing on community sites to solutions focusing on the broader social web, which now represent the majority of our revenue growth. We therefore anticipate revenues from our community center business to continue to diminish over time.
As expected the news replicated across the Internet. For example, two of hundreds:
Of course two weeks later, we wouldn't be any better if we were only reporting the breakup. Let's get started with the other associated bits, shall we?
"We were incorporated in California on April 10, 1996 as LiveWorld Productions and reincorporated in Delaware in July 1999. In April 1999 we changed our name from LiveWorld Productions to Talk City, Inc. On May 8, 2001,when we sold our Talk City consumer site, we changed our name from Talk City, Inc. to LiveWorld, Inc."
LiveWorld INC Form 10-K For the Fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2007
The lack of a prompt formal response from eBay management, gives the appearance that this termination, from an experienced seventeen year-old corporation, caught eBay INC by surprise.
Until recently the official response from eBay INC was silence.
And for some individuals on the eBay Forums,
their posts vanished.
Eventually posts stopped disappearing. And eBay INC broke its self-imposed silence with this short post:
It's a minor quibble, but were're left wondering who dumped whom?
We'll hazard a guess it's the first story ; LiveWorld dropped eBay as a client. Why would LiveWorld INC drop a perfectly good client? Profits perhaps?
"Since inception, LiveWorld has not generated sufficient funds through operations to support its business."
LiveWorld 22 March 2002
Circa 1996, Peter Friedman, previously of "Apple's Internet Services Division", "founded LiveWorld, raised over $100 Million in private rounds and an IPO". Of course at the time investors expected to reap a good return.
Then comes the work of generating revenue (among other things), to reach the goal of net profitability. As the "not generated sufficient funds" statement noted, the first few years were an uphill battle.
The profit side of the ledger was excluded, because our focus today is revenue.
Enter eBay INC.
"Significant contracts recently have been signed including a major expansion of LiveWorld’s business with eBay"
LiveWorld INC Form 8-K July 10, 2002
Premier online trading community teams up with leading relationship marketing services company
CAMPBELL, Calif., May 23, 2001 – LiveWorld, Inc. ( www.liveworld.com ), formerly Talk City Marketing Group (OTCBB: TCTY), a leading provider of online relationship marketing services, announced today that it has been selected by eBay Inc. (NASDAQ: EBAY; www.ebay.com ), the world's premier online trading community, to be eBay’s provider of community-based marketing services. The agreement will give eBay the ability to rapidly scale the range of interactive services it provides to its international user community, including moderated forum-based discussions and online polls. "Under the multi-year agreement, LiveWorld will provide it's services to eBay including community discussion forums covering specific local language implementations for the United States, England, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Spain."
“We are pleased to be working with LiveWorld and providing eBay members with a host of new and exciting community features,” said Bob Hebeler, eBay Vice President of Categories and Community. "LiveWorld has an outstanding track record in producing and delivering compelling community features and interactive dialogue which will enhance the user experience for our 29 million members.”
Since 1996, LiveWorld has provided online relationship marketing services using community-based applications to more than 100 Fortune 1000 organizations, including industry leaders such as Disney, Time Warner, American Express, Sears, Kodak, NBC, ABC, HBO, American Express, Chrysler, Toyota, BMW, Home Depot, The Gap, Starbucks, Coca-Cola, Palm, and IBM. In addition to webcast events, chat, discussions forums, and club tools; the Company’s integrated suite of services includes ongoing market research for evaluation of customer relationships, community moderation and consulting services.
“We are extremely proud to be working with eBay in bringing a new range of services to one of the online world’s most passionate and dedicated user communities,” said Peter Friedman, chairman and CEO of LiveWorld. “We look forward to helping eBay reach out to its community and helping eBay members reach out to each other in new and innovative ways.”
This would change
After a few lean years, LiveWorld INC's revenue stream exploded in 2004.
LOS GATOS, Calif., May 25 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- LiveWorld, Inc.
(Pinksheets: LVWD.PK) today announced it has signed a renewal contract to continue providing technology services to eBay. LiveWorld's services assist eBay in managing its Community forums, such as their discussion and chat boards, eBay groups, Live Events, and eBay's member-to-member Answer Center.
These forums are provided on a global basis and in multiple languages including English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Dutch, and Chinese.
"Our user community has built eBay," said Henry Gomez, Vice President of Corporate Communications. "LiveWorld continues to be key partner. They have helped us expand the eBay Community around the world."
"eBay's services are the industry benchmark for how to build a business by engaging partners and customers," said Peter Friedman, Chairman & CEO of LiveWorld. "We are delighted that LiveWorld's services contribute to the strong underlying culture of the eBay economy."
LiveWorld's signed revenue for 2004 is a mixture of contracts with new clients as well as renewals and expansion from existing clients. As previously announced, the Company said that it has already signed $4.1 Million in revenue for 2004 compared to $2.6 total revenue for 2003. The $4.1 Million includes the renewal of the eBay contract. The Company expects continued growth in revenue for Year 2004 and it will continue to manage financials tightly with the expectation of having approximately breakeven results. Actual results may vary quarter to quarter as it invests more in overall growth of the business.
|Total|| eBay Revenue
And possibly due to experience with eBay's AOL forum section,
LiveWorld INC secured a contract with AOL.
- "Our revenues are concentrated between our two largest clients, AOL US and eBay. For fiscal 2007, revenues from AOL US comprised approximately 13% of our total revenues and eBay accounted for approximately 31% of our total revenues. For fiscal 2006 and 2005, AOL US revenues accounted for approximately 36% and 51% of our revenues, respectively, and eBay revenues accounted for approximately 31% and 26% of our revenues, respectively. Our revenues from these clients can change rapidly with little notice, and our revenues from AOL US has declined in recent years and we do not expect any revenues from AOL US in fiscal 2008."
Temporarily eclipsing the amount of revenue from eBay INC.
This would change.
"Our contract with AOL US ran out at the end of 2007. We do not anticipate AOL US being a material client of ours in the future. Our business relationship with eBay began in 2001 and our current contract runs through 2009."
LiveWorld INC Form 10-K For the fiscal Year Ended December 31, 2007
Had eBay INC been paying attention to LiveWorld INC's financial statements, they would have noticed the growing revenue courtship. With someone else.
Fiscal 2009 came and went. LiveWorld INC's contract extended itself. But revenue from eBay INC took an interesting path. Perhaps eBay INC was paying attention to LiveWorld's infidelity.
|Total|| eBay Revenue
Over time eBay INC's valued partner LiveWorld INC, received less and less revenue. Perhaps not coincidentally, LiveWorld INC added a new client.
- "For the twelve months ended December 31, 2011, revenues from eBay comprised approximately 23% of our total revenues while Walmart made up approximately 10% of our total revenues and all other clients represented approximately 67% of our total revenues. This compares to the twelve months ended December 31, 2010 where revenues from eBay comprised approximately 34% of our total revenues and all other clients represented approximately 66% of total revenues."
LiveWorld INC's revenue from eBay INC shrunk, while Walmart INC revenue grew.
"For the Twelve months ended December 31, 2012, revenues from eBay and Walmart together comprised 56% of our total revenues while all other clients represented approximately 44% of our total revenues. This compares to the Twelve months ended December 31, 2011 where revenues from eBay and Walmart together comprised 43% of our total revenues and all other clients represented for 57% of total revenues."
The companies separated on 24 May 2013.
Was the breakup between LiveWorld INC and eBay INC inevitable? Well, consider the clients.
An oranges to tangerines comparison between the two LiveWorld INC clients:
- Walmart INC 2012 net sales - $443.9 billion
- eBay INC 2012 GMV (Gross Merchandise Volume) - $67.8 billion
And 2012 revenue stream.
- Walmart INC, 43% of total revenue
- eBay INC, 13% of total revenue
Were you LiveWorld INC, a profit-making venture, where would you focus your energies? On a large client, or a small one? On a client with increasing revenue potential, or a client reducing it's payments to you?
It's only business after all.
"From a marketing perspective, storytelling is about changing our perspective as marketers – our customers are already telling stories every day about our products or services to their friends, relatives, co-workers and sometimes even to strangers, and most research tells us that they are more credible than brand stories. Yet customer stories are often ignored and not told at all by brands."
Mark Williams, Director, Social Strategy and Content Programming at LiveWorld