A screen grab of LivingSocial’s Web site during an outage last week. ( / )

The blows just keep coming for District-based deals purveyor LivingSocial.

The company’s Web site and mobile app were inaccessible for nearly 48 hours last week after a critical database went down and had to be manually rebuilt by the firm’s engineers.

LivingSocial spokeswoman Sara Parker declined to say what the database contained, but it was critical enough to take out all of the company’s systems, she said. It did not contain customer credit card numbers or other financial data, she added.

This is the second IT snafu for the company this year. In April, a cyber attack forced 50 million subscribers to reset the password to their accounts, resulting in both lost revenue and lost customers.

Last week’s outage extended far beyond the U.S. Some of LivingSocial’s largest foreign markets, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia were also out of order. All countries were back online by 9 a.m. Thursday.

“There are still some issues, and there are still some country-specific issues and we’re on it,” Parker said last week, adding that the main cause of the outage had been resolved.

“The issue that happened will never happen again,” she said. “We’re working with a third party to audit all of our systems.”

The length of the outage, which began around 2 p.m. Tuesday, is an eternity for a consumer Internet company. Most major consumer Internet firms, including Amazon, Google or eBay, have gone down at some point, but the issues are typically resolved within a few hours.

That’s because consumer Internet companies can’t make money if people can’t get to their Web sites. LivingSocial is no exception. During the outage, customers were unable to purchase deals and the firm temporarily halted its marketing e-mails.

That will undoubtedly mean lost revenue and Web traffic for a company that has struggled to maintain both. ComScore reports that 11.5 million unique visitors went to LivingSocial’s Web site and mobile app in October. That’s down from a high of 19 million unique visitors in March.

“The financial impact [of the outage] is difficult to determine at this point but we are encouraged by the traffic that we saw as soon as we came back online,” Parker said.

To win back customers, LivingSocial ran a promotion over the weekend that gave customers an additional discount on the firm’s already marked-down deals for travel and local merchants.


NationalField, the District-based start-up founded by staffers from Barack Obama’s first presidential campaign, has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by one of the area’s largest political technology companies.

NGP VAN employs 150 people between its offices in D.C. and Boston. It works with Democratic and progressive political candidates and organizations, including Virginia governor-elect Terry McAuliffe and New York City mayor-elect Bill de Blasio in the most recent election cycle.

NationalField co-founders J ustin Lewis, Aharon Wasserman and Edward Saatchi will join NGP VAN as part of the sale, along with a handful of the company’s employees. To date, NationalField has built software that allows a campaign’s network of volunteers and staffers to communicate, track fundraising goals and monitor individuals’ work performance.

“At the end of 2013, everyone’s attention in the political space turns to 2014 and already 2016,” Lewis said. “A lot of the campaign folks are starting to think [about] what are the campaign tools that are going to be in place then.”

For that reason, both firms wanted to get the deal done before next year’s campaigns get underway in earnest.


District-based SmartThings, a start-up that uses a network of sensors to allow household appliances to be controlled from a single app, collected $12.5 million from investors last week.

Greylock Partners and Highland Capital Partners led the round, which brings the firm’s total venture capital to date to $15.5 million, the company said in a news release.

SmartThings is capitalizing on the “Internet of Things” phenomenon in which an increasing number of everyday objects, from cars to lamps, are being wired with a wireless Internet connection. That allows them to be controlled with smartphones and other Web-enabled devices.

A $300 kit from SmartThings includes a motion sensor, two open/close sensors, two presence sensors, a power outlet and a hub that connects them all. The sensors can then be controlled from an app on your smartphone.

FoundationDB, a data storage company based in Vienna, added $17 million to its coffers last week in a venture capital round led by Sutter Hill Ventures.

Founded in 2009, FoundationDB said in a news release that it would use the money to beef up its sales, marketing and engineering teams, as well as support its work for existing clients.

Sutter Hill Managing Director Sam Pullara will join FoundationDB’s board of directors, the firm said. CrunchFund and existing angel investors also contributed to the round.

Twitter D.C. will be setting up shop at 1133 15th St. NW, the same downtown building that houses start-up hub 1776. Clark Enterprises owns the building. The Washington Business Journal reported the news earlier.