Jim Bramson, general counsel of LivingSocial Inc., is no stranger to being on the ground floor of a high-technology pioneer. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, he was chief counsel of intellectual property, products and technology at AOL Inc., which at the time “was evolving rapidly” and exploring new ways of harnessing the Web, he said.
Since joining LivingSocial in 2010, he’s drawn on that experience as the company has expanded from offering deals to local businesses in a few domestic markets to reaching upwards of 60 million consumers in more than 20 countries.
Bramson knew LivingSocial’s founders from the years they worked together at Revolution Health Group, an online health-related venture. In his early days with the Washington-based company, Bramson helped it navigate its growing pains, from raising capital to developing a Web- and social media-based model that could work across state lines and international borders.
During the past year, the company has aggressively gone after markets overseas, snapping up eight companies in 2011. The acquisitions included deal Web sites LetsBonus in Spain, with a reach across Europe and in Latin America; Ticket Monster Inc. in South Korea, which also serves consumers in Malaysia; and Ensogo, which does business in Thailand and the Philippines. Bramson steered the company through those acquisitions and the country-specific consumer protection and risk-management issues that came with them.
The company is experimenting with offering activities directly to consumers. Whereas in the past, for instance, LivingSocial offered discounts to local restaurants, it now works with restaurants to offer cooking classes or other customized events. For Bramson, that means figuring out how to be a hands-on operator, as opposed to an online intermediary. “The next phase of development is how to…diversify,” he said.
“I love working with entrepreneurs. They are people who are willing to try new things and think out of the box,” Bramson said. His job, he added, “is to work with people with a creative vision and help them build the tracks that they can drive their train down.”