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New luxury-property site launches in UAE

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Articles, Middle East, Real estate | Comments Off

Dubai has enjoyed intensive and strong growth in real estate development in recent years. In the process Dubai transformed from a small trading port to the region’s gateway to the world. Dubai is home to many luxury hotels, towers, villas and residential and commercial buildings. In Dubai alone the total value of real estate transactions, according to Dubai’s Land Department, amounted to about $31 billion U.S. last year.luxuryp

Luxsqft.com is a new real estate website launched in Dubai to highlight these luxury properties, in response to increased interest in luxury property from people living inside and especially outside UAE.

The website will have 100 real estate agents to promote UAE properties. Luxsqft.com has a range of features, such as virtual 3-D tours and a feature that enable customers to send free SMSs to their brokers with a specific property link in each SMS. The website has an enhanced searching capability to help users to get a clearer picture of properties they are searching. Luxsqft.com will be supported by a monthly broadsheet style glossy magazine offering news and features from the real estate market.

After this launch in UAE, Luxsqft.com management will start implementing its three-year expansion plan later in 2015. Included in this plan are launches of the site in the U.K. and U.S. Also included are launches in Hong Kong and 25 more countries, but only at a later stage.

The website currently is only available in English. It allows users to look at prices in the currency of their preference. Luxsqft.com doesn’t have its own mobile app. But, management says the website can adapt to the latest mobile technologies.

Saltside prepares for a fight in Bangladesh with new funding

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Articles, Marketplace, Strategy | Comments Off

Saltside Technology raised $40 million U.S. from Hillhouse Capital, Brummer & Partners and Kinnevik for funding growth. This time around Kinnevik only contributed $5 million.

The fresh money will fill Saltside Technology’s war chest. It will come in handy to fight the recently-formed joint venture between Naspers and SnT Classified in Bangladesh, where Saltside has a strong position with Bikroy (No. 1). We asked Saltside CEO Nils Hammer (photo) in a Skype chat what he will use the money for. The answer came quickly:

“Our primary focus is to make sure we win big in our existing markets, but the world is an exciting place and we are always evaluating opportunities,” he said.

Nils Hammar, CEO of Saltside (from his LinkedIn profile)

Nils Hammar, CEO of Saltside (from his LinkedIn profile)

We asked how the situation changed in Bangladesh after SnT Classified and Naspers had joined forces.

“According to our metrics we are well ahead of the competition across the verticals, including Ekhanei. Therefore, the results so far speak in favor of Bikroy. But, it is early days in Bangladesh,” Hammar said. Saltside, founded in Sweden, now has its headquarters in Dubai. With the latest investments Kinnevik’s stake in Saltside dropped from 83 percent to 61 percent.

Brummer & Partners calls itself a leading European hedge fund manager who gathers managers with different management strategies in a group. It manages SEK 125 billion on behalf of private individuals, companies and institutional investors.

Brummer & Partners has offices in six countries, with headquarters in Stockholm. The group has about 400 employees.
Hillhouse Capital presents itself on its site as a long-term fundamental equities investor. That might be needed. Bangladesh might be a time-consuming project, and the two other markets for Saltside in Ghana and Sri Lanka will need time to develop.

Here is Kinnevik’s complete media statement:

Kinnevik introduces new investors into Saltside and participates in financing

Investment AB Kinnevik (“Kinnevik”) today announced it has invested USD 5m in Saltside Technologies AB (“Saltside”) as part of a USD 40m growth capital funding round, with the remainder provided by new investors Hillhouse Capital and Brummer & Partners.
Saltside operates the leading online horizontal classifieds platforms in three frontier markets. Kinnevik co-founded the company in 2011 in Gothenburg with a view to building leading online marketplaces in underserved markets. It has since built three household digital consumer brands – Bikroy (Bangladesh), Ikman (Sri Lanka) and Tonaton (Ghana) – which are market leaders in terms of user base, engagement and monetization. The team has grown to over 200 employees and is headquartered in Dubai.
Kinnevik will retain majority ownership after this funding round with an ownership stake of 61%, with the remainder being held by management and new investors.
Lorenzo Grabau, CEO of Kinnevik, commented: “Saltside is a great example of Kinnevik’s ability to identify attractive opportunities and thereafter create and lead successful digital businesses. We are delighted to welcome Hillhouse Capital and Brummer & Partners as fellow shareholders and look forward to working with them to pursue further growth opportunities.”
For further information, visit www.kinnevik.se or contact:
Torun Litzén, Director, Investor Relations Phone +46 (0)8 562 000 83
Mobile +46 (0)70 762 00 83

Swiss Post and retailers may be interested in Ricardo

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Articles, Building Sales, Strategy | Comments Off

The leading Swiss newspaper “Tagesanzeiger” whipped the rumor that Naspers wants to sell its Swiss subsidiary Ricardo AG into a frenzy with a report that several players had entered the bidding competition. Naspers reportedly hopes to pocket between 300 and 400 million Swiss francs ($310 to $413 million U.S.), for further investment in emerging markets in Africa and Asia.

After several media reports confirmed late in 2014 that local media companies Tamedia and Ringier are interested in merging Ricardo into their expanding digital operations, now “well-informed insider sources” told the Tamedia-owned “Tagesanzeiger”, leading Swiss retailers Migros and Coop have also placed bids at investment company Altium Capital, which is handling the tender for Naspers.

Neither Naspers, nor Migros, Coop and any other party mentioned in this affair has commented since rumors started circling in September with a report on Bloomberg. Ricardo operates leading auction and b-to-c marketplace Ricardo.ch, auto vertical spin-off AutoRicardo.ch, Naspers worldwide c-to-c, free classifieds site OLX.ch and RicardoShops.ch, an e-commerce site launched late in 2014.

According to these sources, Coop, Switzerland’s largest retail and wholesale company, has in the meantime withdrawn its offer for unknown reasons, but competitor Migros is still part of the unconfirmed bidding process. Also on board of the tender is -according to “people familiar with the deal”, public-owned postal service company Swiss Post AG. It also didn’t want to comment.

Swiss Post has been focusing for a time on providing additional services for stationary retailers in Switzerland, particularly on providing easy-to-handle crossborder services. The company offers, through its subsidiary Swiss Post Solutions AG, all-in-one e-commerce solutions for smaller online shops.

An interesting scenario, which shows that the Swiss online commerce market is entering a new stage, in which even non-media players are battling for a better position with acquisitions in a low-price stage.

So, if it seemed that two local media companies with strong stakes in online classifieds (Tamedia and Ringier) would have find it easy to reach agreement with Naspers over Ricardo, the entry of particularly Migros has changed all this.

Bomnegocio says it’s going to be OLX

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Brazil, Latin America, Marketplace | Comments Off

bomnegocio-olxSchibsted’s Bomnegocio, a leading generalist classifieds platform in Brazil, said Friday that “it’s going to be OLX.” Despite the deal being announced a few weeks ago by Schibsted and Naspers, the deal wasn’t made public to Brazilian users.

In an email, Bomnegocio said “it’s going to be OLX”. “You, who detach [detach was the motto adopted by OLX] and make good deals [good deal is the English word for Bomnegocio] have now the opportunity to announce and buy in a single site,” the Bomnegocio message said. “Bomnegocio is now OLX,” the message continued, adding the platform has now “the double of sellers and buyers.”

“The more people we have, the better it is, and you can’t miss this,” concluded the flyer.

However, as of Sunday, Jan. 25, Bomnegocio.com still had the same website, with no notice of having changed or merged to OLX.

Bomnegocio will continue active temporarily, until it’s deactivated. OLX will be the only brand after the merger involving Schibsted and Naspers.

With the move, the “new OLX,” which now is expected to be double the size, consolidates its leadership in the country’s classifieds market.

 

 

M4JAM looking to expand beyond South Africa

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Articles, Recruitment, South Africa | Comments Off

Micro-jobbing platform Money for Jam (M4JAM) is looking to go beyond the borders of South Africa and expand into two new territories in the next few months, Warren Venter, co-founder and chief operations officer (COO) of M4JAM, said in a local radio interview.

Venter said the site was already in talks with people in the target area (which he did not reveal), and that the talks were going well.

M4JAM was launched in August 2014 and is a way for South Africans to earn money with micro-jobs. M4JAM takes big jobs from reputable companies and breaks them into smaller jobs, allowing “jobbers” to complete simple tasks with their phones in exchange for cash, while going about their daily lives.

With the service South Africans earn money using their smartphones. Money for Jam uses the WeChat platform, a Chinese-based instant messaging platform, owned by Tencent Holdings. Naspers holds a 34-percent stake in Tencent.

“We are excited about a global expansion,” said Venter. “But first we still want to drive expansion in South Africa and grow our jobbers here.”

He said they do not cover as many areas as they would like in South Africa, and are working on reaching jobbers in more areas. Venter said the response has been overwhelming and within three weeks of the platform launching they had completed about 80 percent of the jobs put on the platform for a three-month period.

“To be honest, we started scrambling to get more jobs on the platform,” said Venter. “We worked closely with brands over November and December to find out exactly what they want, and we’ll be releasing a whole new batch of jobs in the next two weeks in a new format,” he added.

There are other exciting things in store for M4JAM.

“We are launching a reality TV game show within an M4Jam context at the end of March, where jobbers can get involved and earn money,” he said. “We are [also] busy creating a self-service portal where brands will be able to create jobs and go directly to jobbers, but that’s the next phase.”

Cheki launches installment payment for auto buyers

Posted by on Jan 26, 2015 in Articles, Automotive | Comments Off

One Africa Media’s Cheki Kenya launched an affordable payment plan dubbed Flexipay, which enables auto buyers to pay deposits only for their favourite autos on the site – rather than pay in full.
Speaking to AIM Group, Cheki Kenya marketing manager Elaine Mathangani said, “Flexipay is an easy payment plan for anybody looking to buy an auto from selected Cheki auto dealers. Any car that is marked as “FlexiPay” means the buyer can deposit a certain amount, and drive away with the auto after agreeing with the dealer on a convenient payment plan.”
Cheki.co.ke auto dealers will have their own partial deposit requirement and Flexipay terms. Buyers need only identify the cars they want, get the dealers and start the Flexipay conversation. Flexipay is not the first such arrangement Cheki launched. The site has been connecting car buyers to car loans – especially employed buyers. Flexipay is slightly different, because it is broadbased and allows even those running their own businesses to agree with auto dealers on the amount of the installments and the frequency of the payments.
This move is expected to increase sales for car dealers using the Cheki platform.
Though Cheki is the largest and most popular platform, innovation will help it fight off the growing list of verticals in the country and help it maintain its leading position. Some of the competitors in the auto vertical include Autobazaar, KenyaCarBazaar, CarArea etc. Rocket Internet’s Carmudi is also set to launch sometime this year.

OnTheMarket anti-competition complaint being investigated

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Articles, Real estate, United Kingdom | Comments Off

Online estate agent EMoov has confirmed to AIM Group that it has heard back from the Competition and Mergers Authority (CMA) today that its anti-competition claim against OnTheMarket is in the early stages of being investigated.

At the moment, the CMA has not launched a formal investigation yet. The complaint was simply passed on to its investigations team, for a decision whether further action was required.

The complaint was filed with the CMA at the end of last year on the basis that OnTheMarket has ruled out allowing online estate agents on its site, which launches on Monday, January 26. According to EMoov, this is not fair, because online estate agents often run a hybrid model through which the company is legally registered as an estate agency and uses qualified estate agents to appraise houses and help customers in their negotiations.

Ultimately, the complaint to the CMA is a moot point, because OnTheMarket requires an estate agency to only advertise on one other portal. EMoov is honest enough to admit it would not want to stop advertising on either Rightmove or Zoopla and so, perhaps ironically, would not want to be part of Agents’ Mutual and its OnTheMarket site anyway.

However, it claims a point of principle is worth raising with the British authorities, because an online estate agency should, it believes, be as free to join OnTheMarket as a conventional high street office.

 

Lifting of minimum Euro-Swiss franc cap forces Ricardoshops to lower prices

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Articles, CIR, Investors | Comments Off

E-commerce portal Ricardoshops.ch, operated by Naspers Switzerlands subsidiary Ricardo AG, to offer consumers attracting new B2C- products from national and in particular EU-retailers , has announced to lower prices for products from German retailers by 15 percent. Currently Ricardoshops lists an offer of over 2,000 items, mostly fashion and living accessories products, from 15 German retailers.

 

The decision to reduce prices for the offer of the German retailers, was explained by Ricardoshops Managing director Heinz Krienbühl, as “an adjustment to the abolition of the minimum Swiss francs to Euro exchange rate by Swiss National Bank (SNB).

 

Last week´s SNB decision to scrap the 3-year-old 1.20 per Euro cap, has soared the Swiss franc by around 20 percent in value against the Euro, which means EU goods traded at Ricardoshops are still around l 5 percent more expensive than before.

Ricardoshops was launched in September as all-in-one “Swiss Online Shopping Center” by Ricardo AG to compete with in the country leading E-Commerce portals like Amazon or Digitec, and had at the start a range of goods for sale of of 2.5 million items offered by 35 retailers. In its current press note Ricardo said, it had increased its offer of goods to now 3.5 million items on sale from over 50 online retailers. Ricardoshops offers, as Amazon, a free of charge customer clearance service for clients and the in the European Community usual period of a 14-days-purchase revocation.

Ricardo AG, which operates leading auction marketplace Ricardo.ch, car portal Autoricardo.ch and free-classifieds website Olx.ch, is rumored to have an price-tag of between 300 to 400 million Swiss francs ($310 to 413 million U.S.) placed by Naspers on it.

Cars.com, RepairPal add certification

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Articles, Automotive, Marketplace, Services | Comments Off

Cars.com Offers Service Certification, Helps Franchise Dealers Stand Out Amid Rising Competition

RepairPal Certified Helps Dealers Differentiate Service Business

CHICAGO, Jan. 22, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Cars.com announced today it will unveil its first program designed specifically to help differentiate dealership service departments. RepairPal Certified, launching at NADA 2015 in San Francisco, is a certification badge developed in partnership with RepairPal, for qualified franchise dealerships that distinctively verifies trusted service departments. The badge assures consumers that a dealership’s service department has strong customer satisfaction scores and offers guaranteed fair prices, warranties for its work and qualified technicians.

“We’re excited to launch RepairPal Certified for franchise dealers and help them take back their service business,” said Alex Vetter, CEO of Cars.com. “We’ve always dedicated ourselves to building a trusted platform for car shoppers, and consumers have come to rely on us at all stages of the buying process. Now our goal is to transform the service and repair category by providing much-needed resources for car owners seeking help and advice when it comes to maintaining their vehicles, and for dealerships looking to boost their service business and regain their market share from national service chains.”

More than 86 percent of cars on the road today are past warranty¹, and dealers are undoubtedly losing service revenue as these vehicles age. In fact, dealers lose an average of 60 to 78 percent of revenue on three- to six-year-old cars, and 82 to 92 percent of revenue on cars more than seven years old².

“Car owners leave the dealership for service because they’re skeptical of high prices. This misperception is only amplified by national chains that are exceedingly effective in communicating a consistent fair-price message online,” said Vetter.  “With RepairPal Certified, Cars.com is offering dealers a way to promote quality work and fair prices, giving consumers the trust they need and flipping preconceived notions about dealership service.”

To earn and maintain RepairPal certification, a dealership’s service department must complete an assessment every 90 days covering four key areas: Technical Assessment, Minimum Warranty, Customer Satisfaction and Price Guarantee. A RepairPal Certified dealer must have OEM-certified technicians, at least a 12 month/12,000 mile warranty, a minimum number of Cars.com Service Reviews with an overall 4-star rating in sales or service, and pricing that falls within the RepairPal Estimator. When a dealer earns the new certification badge, it will be prominently featured on Cars.com and RepairPal.com and can be used offline in their own marketing materials.

RepairPal Certified will be available in select markets at NADA 2015 and will roll out nationwide in March. For more information, visit the Cars.com booth #3003N at NADA 2015 or dealers.cars.com.

¹Experian Automotive’s Vehicles in Operation (VIO) database, 2011
²DMEautomotive: The Changing Service Loyalty Landscape, 2012

About Cars.com
Cars.com is a leading independent research site for car shoppers with approximately 30 million visits per month. The Chicago-based company provides shoppers with credible and easy-to-understand information from consumers and experts.  Leveraging its growing audience, Cars.com informs digital marketing strategies through consumer insights and innovative products, helping automotive dealers and manufacturers more effectively reach in-market car shoppers. Cars.com is owned by Gannett Co., Inc. (NYSE: GCI). For more information, visit www.dealers.cars.com

About RepairPal
RepairPal’s mission is to take the mystery out of auto repair. Launched in 2007, RepairPal developed a patented auto repair price estimator that educated consumers about the fair cost of auto repair. Arming consumers with knowledge of this kind was revolutionary in an industry that is riddled with negative stereotypes and poor consumer satisfaction. RepairPal has since expanded their product offering to build a nationwide network of certified repair shops that strive for a better car care experience marked by transparency and trust. All RepairPal Certified shops are pre-screened for quality, tools, training, and a commitment to honor the price guidelines set by the estimator. Learn more at www.repairpal.com.

 

At 5,000 Zillow brokers ListHub needed?

Posted by on Jan 23, 2015 in Articles, Marketplace, Real estate | Comments Off

The huge number of brokers that have now committed to Zillow Pro makes the notion that Move is kicking Zillow from ListHub kicking and screaming almost laughable. Were that to have been the case, Spencer would definitely owe Rupert a thank you.

Here’s the announcement: 

Zillow Pro for Brokers Exceeds 5,000 Partnersis

Program enrollment continues its explosive growth; More than doubles in size since July 2014

SEATTLE, Jan. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Zillow, Inc. (NASDAQ: Z), the leading real estate information and home related marketplace, today announced the Zillow® Pro for Brokers program has enrolled more than 5,000 partners nationwide and more than doubled its size since July 2014. Launched in June 2012, Zillow Pro for Brokers is a free, five-point program that improves listings accuracy, provides better reporting, includes a powerful contact follow-up system and increases the visibility of listing agents for participating brokerages.

“We tremendously value our broker partners who sends us their listings directly because it means we can provide a better experience both to professionals, and ultimately, the millions of visitors to Zillow,” said Greg Schwartz, Zillow chief revenue officer. “More than ever, we have made it our priority to build direct relationships with brokers around the country in order to get more timely and accurate listings, and in return, give brokers marketing exposure and connect their agents with home sellers and home shoppers.”

“Being part of Zillow Pro for Brokers has been a great experience for my brokerage,” said Gary Rabon, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker Advantage. “My agents love that they show up next to their listings every time and have seen an increase in home buyers reaching out directly to them. Overall, it has been fantastic working with Zillow and our relationship has had a direct, positive impact on our business.”

New partners include:

  • Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Florida Realty
  • Coffee County Realty and Auction – Manchester, Tennessee
  • Coldwell Banker Finger Lakes – Geneva, New York
  • ERA King Real Estate – Birmingham, Alabama
  • Keller Williams Ballantyne – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • Keller Williams Realty – Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas

In addition to retaining ownership of their data, brokerages’ agents will always be displayed first next to their listings, as well as have their logo and outbound link to their websites included with the listings.

To learn more about Zillow Pro for Brokers, email partners@zillow.com