Facebook Will Introduce New Service That Sells Discount Deals

Facebook Inc. is planning to test a service that will let consumers buy discounted one-time offers as it looks for new ways to boost sales and attract local business customers.

The service will let people share discounted offers with their friends, Facebook said in an e-mailed statement. Part of the company’s Deals program, the service will be introduced first in five cities, including Atlanta, San Francisco, San Diego, Dallas and Austin, Texas.

“Local businesses will be able to sign up to use this feature soon, and people will be able to find Deals in the coming weeks,” the Palo Alto, California-based company said in the statement.

With the service, Facebook is seeking to expand in the fast-growing U.S. market for daily online coupons made popular by sites such as Groupon Inc. and LivingSocial. That industry will grow to $3.93 billion in 2015 from $873 million last year, according to a projection from BIA/Kelsey, a Chantilly, Virginia-based consulting firm.

Facebook’s discount offers will be sold to businesses by its own staff. Users also will be able to buy discount deals through the service from partners including ReachLocal, Gilt City, Tippr, HomeRun.com, PopSugar City, KGB Deals, Plum District and Zozi.

With more than 500 million users, Facebook seeks to attract more companies that want to do business with its growing user base. Recent advertisers include Starbucks Corp. and JetBlue Airways Corp.

The company said in January that it raised $1.5 billion from investors led by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., placing a $50 billion valuation on the entire company. Facebook may have reached $2 billion in sales last year, three people familiar with the matter said in December.

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net.

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