Monday, November 30, 2009

Happy [Cyber] Monday!

I love this headline from
US News and World Report: Cyber Monday Is a Fake Holiday.

Far be it from to dissuade people from shopping online, but it's true that there's not much true about "cyber Monday", that's it's a very recent invention by marketers.

That said, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that market analysts expect record shopping online today.

And, of course, retailers are hoping that Cyber Monday is real - and big.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Your loved ones are hurtin'; give 'em cash

We just read this article in USA Today today about how families are hurting this holiday season: "Families that cut a little last year are cutting more now"


We know from our own circle of families and friends how bad the economy is and how much that's hurting people. People are saving money everywhere they can. But with the holidays upon us, the pressure to give gifts to people, there's an emotional pain welling up.

We think you should give people money if that's what they really need. We know that you know that that's what they want.

But don't lose face, don't insult them. Maintain their dignity (and yours), be creative and fun with your gift of money. Give them a Lottay cash gift. It's an online, secure, personalize-able cash gift, from your PayPal account into theirs, "wrapped" like a present.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our Wishing Wall

Today launched a new place for your wishes to be posted:!

On Lottay, you create wishes for anything and your friends, family, co-workers - anyone - can give you money toward your wish. It's the gift of cash, but you specify what it's toward.

The range of what people wish for is so imaginative that we created Our Wishing Wall as a place to quickly throw your wish out there for anyone to see. As one of Lottay's users said to us in an email, it's like tossing out your wish to the Universe and seeing what comes back ...

Our Wishing Wall is anonymous, so divulge [to the Interwebs] what you really wish for. Or comment on someone else's wish. Or just lurk and enjoy....

Happy wishing!

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lottay Cautions “Gift Cards Are the New Fruitcake”

Lottay Cautions “Gift Cards Are the New Fruitcake”

Launch of ‘Our Wishing Wall’ Provides Social Snapshot of Online Gift Giving Worldwide; Prompts Wish List Creation to Avoid Unwanted Gift Cards (and Fruitcakes)

  • Consumer Reports survey: 46 percent plan to buy gift cards; only 15 percent want them
  • Our Wishing Wall inspires creative wishing and gift giving for holiday shopping
  • Wish lists may be shared with friends and family via Facebook and Twitter
  • Visit Our Wishing Wall at before Black Friday, Cyber Monday

LOS ANGELES, Calif., Nov. 24, 2009 — Lottay, the online gift-giving company, today cautioned holiday shoppers and the public at large that gift cards are the new fruitcake. To counter the perpetuation of unwanted gift card (and fruitcake) giving, the company launched Our Wishing Wall,, where people can anonymously post their wishes for all to see. The new site provides a social snapshot of online gift giving worldwide, prompting people to create wish lists that reflect what they really want for the holidays and other gifting occasions.

“With all due respect to fruitcake fans, the object of your affection has become the popular, brandy-soaked symbol of the gift nobody wants,” said Harry Lin, CEO of Lottay. “Now, gift cards are vying for that title, sans brandy and green maraschino cherries. Instead, the ingredients of unwanted gift cards are expiration dates, service fees and lock-in to a single store. Our mission is to help you give better gifts, and Our Wishing Wall is a place to inspire and be inspired, where wishes can be anything, from anywhere, limited only by your imagination.”

Our Wishing Wall and the Gift Card Fail

The shortcomings of gift cards have been documented most recently by Consumer Reports and a flurry of regional warnings. According to an October 2009 survey by Consumer Reports, the “perils” of gift cards include:

  • Unwanted – 46 percent of people plan on buying gift cards but only 15 percent want them.
  • Unused – About 12 percent of people had yet to redeem at least one of the gift cards they received during the 2008 holiday season.
  • Overspent – 65 percent of people who received a gift card in 2008 typically spent more than the value of the card.
  • Limited – 41 percent of people with unused, 2008 gift cards hadn’t found anything they wanted to buy.
  • Expensive – Gift cards can include fees, expiration dates, etc.

Our Wishing Wall helps avoid the perils of gift cards and other unwanted gifts. An aggregation of wishes from around the world, Our Wishing Wall encourages people to “wish outside the box.” Likewise, gift givers are prompted to “give outside the box,” coming up with creative, thoughtful gifts they can give in the form of cash wrapped in Lottay’s e-greeting cards, personalized messages, images and pictures, and then delivered safely and securely via PayPal.

Visitors to Our Wishing Wall can scroll through its pages, viewing what other people are wishing for and posting their own wishes. It also offers an at-a-glance summary of the site’s most popular wishes. All wishes on Our Wishing Wall are anonymous. People who want to share their wishes with friends and family members can create their own, personal wish lists on and post them to Facebook or Twitter or simply email them to whomever they want.

For more information on Lottay, please visit To get breaking Lottay news and additional perspectives, visit the Lottay blog at Follow Lottay on Twitter at @GiveGiftsOnline and visit the Facebook fan page at

About Lottay

Lottay™ Inc. makes giving and receiving the gift of money a personal, heartfelt experience. The free, online service uses e-greeting cards, private messages, images and pictures to wrap money in the emotion of the occasion. Gift givers and recipients enjoy the intimacy of a personalized present and the flexibility of money—all backed up by the safety and security of PayPal. Lottay was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area. For more information, please visit


Company holiday gifts will be smaller this year

Years ago I was an executive at a large media company headquartered in Los Angeles. Every year near Christmas time, one of the company's top executives would send out holiday gifts to all the managers within his business unit, me being one of them. He always sent Harry & David fruit, usually the pears. I love those pears. I came to expect them every Christmas.

When I left that company, of course I stopped receiving his H&D Christmas pears, and I was sad. I suppose I could just order myself some of those pears ... but it ain't the same as gettin' 'em from the boss as a gift.

Well, according to the news, lots of people will be getting smaller gifts from the boss this holiday year. See this USA Today story here.

The economic slowdown has manifested itself nearly everywhere, including in how companies spend their cash. Holiday gifts for employees will be hit.

I wonder if that exec still sends out the pears...?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gift Cards Will Never Trump Cash

I actually stole that headline from the
Wall Street Journal. (The photo above, too.) Their Cheapskate column has this wonderful diatribe today. The subhead of the article is "Gift Cards Are Useful; Give Me Cash".

That's exactly what we believe here at The article points out that recipients of cash as a gift are happy with the money. I mean, really, who doesn't want to be given MONEY? Cash is fantastic. Even moreso nowadays, right? The article says that the givers of cash as a gift are the ones who don't feel so great about it.

So use to give cash as a gift. You won't feel crass or thoughtless. You create the gift with your message, images, an e-card, even have other people contribute money to the total (so, a group gift). And it's totally safe and secure because the actual money transaction from you to your recipient happens through PayPal.

As the Wall Street Journal article says:

Somebody already invented that go-anywhere gift card. It's called cash.

Lottay Wish List Survey Forecasts Holiday Shopping Trends for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Lottay Wish List Survey Forecasts Holiday Shopping Trends for Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Cow, Monkey, Hookah, Satan Earn “Oddest Wish” Honors for Online Gift Giving

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Lottay, the online gift-giving company, today announced the results of its wish list survey, forecasting holiday shopping trends for Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

  • 38 percent of people want something other than products
  • Top product wishes: Nintendo Wii, Wii games and accessories
  • Top experiential wishes: Travel, cash for shopping

In addition to revealing the most wished-for products and gifts, the survey also reveals some of the oddest wishes that people have made on Lottay, including a cow, a monkey, a hookah and Satan.

Survey of 1,000 Wishes

Lottay surveyed a random sample of 1,000 wishes created for the 2009 holiday season. The survey reveals that 38 percent of people are wishing for an experience or something other than a product while 62 percent are only wishing for products. Overall, 60 percent of Lottay users are women, each of whom has an average of 2.5 wishes. On average, men have 2.1 wishes per wish list. Other survey results include:

  • Top product wishes – Nintendo Wii, Wii games and accessories. The Wii and Wii-related gear are wished for twice as much as Sony and Xbox 360 combined.
  • Runner-up product wishes – iPods, followed by cameras and boots. Ugg’s are the most popular shoe that is specifically named in wishes.
  • Top experience wishes – Travel to France, Disneyland and Las Vegas.
  • Runner-up experience wishes – Cash for use towards shopping, the holidays or hobbies. Massages came in third, and 2.5 percent of wishers want puppies.
  • Top wishes (women) – Cash as a gift, Nintendo Wii, travel and vacations, massage, iPod, boots.
  • Top wishes (men) – Travel, cash as a gift, love and sky diving (tied), iPod, Nintendo Wii, a car.
  • Oddest wishes – A cow, a monkey, a hookah, Satan—all of which were given one time, each. Surprisingly, Satan only cost $200, according to the person who gave him.
  • Wish most likely to appear on MLS – “A beautiful, one story, 2-car garage home in a very nice neighborhood, with 3 bedrooms, 2 1/2 bathrooms, custom eat-in kitchen with stainless steel appliances (including a Viking range with built in grill), pantry, sufficient cabinet space, and an island.” Presumably, “island” referred to a kitchen countertop rather than a land mass surrounded by water.

The 2009 Lottay survey reveals that in tough economic times, cash is a great gift that allows everyone to get what they want and need the most. Friends and family can use Lottay to deliver cash as a personal gift to help recipients pay their rent or treat themselves to a nice dinner. Lottay can also help out in a pinch for shoppers looking for the perfect holiday gift for a BFF or a $5 Secret Santa present for a co-worker. Regardless, a gift on Lottay is the gift of cash combined with the security of PayPal—not a gift card that can be lost or expire, no ugly sweaters, and no candles that will end up being re-gifted.

“A Lottay wish list doesn’t restrict you to choosing merchandise from a catalog. You can wish for anything you want,” said Harry Lin, CEO of Lottay. “That freedom opens up a lot of doors and a lot of creativity for the wisher. As a result, we’re finding that a growing number of people want something more than the latest ‘it’ product. They want love, world peace and the occasional mani-pedi. Lottay is the only place you can wish for, and give, anything at all.”

For more information on Lottay, please visit To get breaking Lottay news and additional perspectives, visit the Lottay blog at Follow Lottay on Twitter at @GiveGiftsOnline and visit the Facebook fan page at

Additional Resources

Lottay website:

Lottay blog:

Lottay on Twitter:

Lottay Facebook fan page:

About Lottay

Lottay™ Inc. makes giving and receiving the gift of money a personal, heartfelt experience. The free, online service uses e-greeting cards, private messages, images and pictures to wrap money in the emotion of the occasion. Gift givers and recipients enjoy the intimacy of a personalized present and the flexibility of money—all backed up by the safety and security of PayPal. Lottay was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in the greater Los Angeles area. For more information, please visit

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Gift cards are the new fruitcake

In the olden days of yore during ye merry ol' holiday times, people used to give fruitcakes as gifts. Lots of people gave fruitcakes as gifts. Yet, very few of the recipients of said cake o' fruit wanted that gift. So it became a joke ("the fruitcake").

I think maybe gift cards are the new fruitcake.

Check out this article in Yahoo!Shine: Five Reasons to Avoid Gift Cards This Holiday Season

Still want to gift the equivalent of cash? We suggest [quite self-promotingly] that you try a online gift of cash, complete with e-card and other nifty gift-y wrapping. A Lottay gift (money sent from your PayPal account into your recipient's PayPal account) has none of the pitfalls of gift cards.

Just say no to gift cards, er, fruitcake this holiday season!

If you're going to spend green, you might as well buy green

I drive a Lexus hybrid. My wife drives a Toyota Prius. Together we are reducing our carbon footprint, one hybrid mile at a time.

Okay, don't call me smug please, just hang on a bit! I know that driving a brand-new automobile is kind of the opposite of caring for our environment, but I see consumerism as a matter of choices, and those choices have real-world consequences. Even if it's just mitigation.

If you're going to drive a new car, you can buy Car A or Car B and one will have less negative impact on the earth over its lifetime. Simple as that. So, why not make the better choice? Like choosing recycled over virgin, or using canvas instead of plastic, or tap instead of bottled.

As the holiday gift season bears down upon us consumers, think about the choices you're going to make. Your money is hard-earned and has meaning. What you spend it on makes a difference.

So check out these "green" gift guides:

Save the planet!

P.S. Send a virtual gift complete with real money on and be really, truly green. No driving, no shipping, no packaging. Some bits of electricity flowing through the Interwebs.

I loves me a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag (and other holiday gift suggestions from GeekDad)

What self-respecting
Star Wars-lovin' grown-up man doesn't want a Tauntaun Sleeping Bag for Christmas? This and other toe-curlingly nerdy - excuse me, geeky (there is a difference between nerd and geek but that's another post) - gift suggestions are to be found on the GeekDad Holiday Gift Guide.

Nightvision binoculars, D&D game pieces - woo boy! Who sez men are simple creatures?

Cash is king this holiday shopping season

Are you going to buy gifts this holiday season with greenbacks or with plastic? A new report that just came out predicts that more of us will pay with cash than with credit this shopping season. The report is here at

The prediction is that shoppers will use cash and debit cards instead of going into more debt. Apparently we as a society in the United States got the memo: We've been paying down our staggering amount of credit card debt. And we don't want to go backwards.

No slam against the credit card industry, but, heck yeah, it's about time we stopped piling on the debt and started digging out from under it.

A perfect, and perfectly manageable, way to set and stick to a holiday-shopping budget is to pay only with cash. Personally, I stopped using credit cards years ago. I only pay with cash, debit, or checks (checks! call me old-school!). This no-credit cards rule has made managing my money more straightforward. Don't have enough to buy it? Well then, don't buy it!

This holiday-shopping budget management is something that works well on How? Simple. You send gifts of cash using That cash sits in your PayPal account (you must use PayPal on Lottay). So decide how much you want to spend on gifts, put that amount into your PayPal account, and send your cash gifts with Lottay. You won't over-spend or go into debt. Sweet.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Are you going to regift this season?

Making the news rounds on the Interweb today is a poll showing that more Americans plan to regift this year compared to last year.

The Consumer Reports poll says that 36% of American adults plan on recycling their gifts this season compared to 31% last year.

Are you a regifter?

Far be it from me to cast aspersions on regifting ... but wouldn't it be nice to get a gift you actually wanted to use?

That's why we started Give money - it's the best. Create and share a wish list - tell 'em what you'd really like. Everyone's happy. And that boxed set of scented candles shaped like snowmen stops making the rounds.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lottay, Inc. company announcement is excited to announce this company news: We've closed our Series A round of financing!

In case you're not familiar with the world of startups and venture capital, Series A is the first round of institutional investment a startup company takes as it builds its business. The major investor in our Series A is DFJ Frontier, a terrific west coast VC firm.

We're also excited to be partnering with PayPal, which is part of the reason DFJ Frontier is excited about It's excitement all around - woo hoo!

PayPal is our pal - and your friend too!

Those of you who use to send cash gifts or to make wish lists know that all the sending and receiving of money goes through PayPal. We are a special partner ... a "pal", if you will - ha! ... of the online money giant.

Why? Because PayPal is the most secure way to send and receive money online. You can tie your bank account to your PayPal account or you can tie a credit card or a debit card to your PayPal account. PayPal has been doing business for about a decade and is rock-solid safe.

When you send or receive a gift, Lottay itself doesn't actually touch or see the money transaction - that all happens through PayPal, by design. The fewer people who handle your money, the better.

We're excited by our PayPal partnership. And we'll have a big company announcement tomorrow, Tuesday, November 17, around that. Stay tuned ...

Friday, November 13, 2009

$13 billion wasted every year on useless and unappreciated gifts

According to a business school professor, Americans waste about $13 billion each year on gifts that are useless and unappreciated. Wharton professor Joel Waldfogel says that giving gifts isn't necessarily the best consumer activity for stimulating our recession-mired economy.

Huh - not buying a Snuggie for everyone in my family for Christmas isn't a good idea? Who'd a thunk!

Prof. Waldfogel also says that gift cards aren't that much better because recipients don't always redeem their full value, "resulting in more value destruction."

"Value destruction" doesn't seem like a nice thoughtful gift to me.

My Ultimate Wish List (and, What's yours?)

What makes wish lists on so special is that they are free-form. That means you write out your wish and pick images and a description ... you're not forced to choose specific products from a catalog or something. So, really, you can wish for anything. Your friends and family see your wish and know they're giving you money (safely, via PayPal) toward your wish. (You're getting the money.) Cool huh?

Our users have told us that when they make a wish on, it feels a bit like closing your eyes, focusing on your dream, and then throwing out your wish to the Universe ... and seeing what comes back. Do you believe in karma? I do.

On, people have wished for everything and anything you could imagine. World peace. A monkey. A cow. A Lamborghini. Ugg boots. Cash for the rent. Their girlfriend to tell them "I love you". Their grandfather, who just passed away, to come back....

What's your wish list?

Twilight author Stephenie Meyer on Oprah today

Twilight New Moon opens next week, and today on The Oprah Winfrey Show it's: Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight novels. So check your local TV listings!

(I admit that Oprah is a guilty pleasure of mine. "You get a car! And you get a car! And you get a car!" And of course, this.)

We wrote about The Twilight Saga: New Moon earlier.

According to her blog, it's the only interview she's going to give about Twilight New Moon. She figured if she's going to do one media interview, it might as well be The Big One.

That reminded me of when Bono, lead singer of the rock band U2, was on Oprah a few years ago, promoting his African charity work. Early in the show, he said, "If you want to speak to the world, you go on The Oprah Winfrey Show." The audience exploded.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hints Don't Work and Men Don't Listen

Or I could sub-title this post "
Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus".

We were on a conference call today with one of colleagues, reviewing wish list data from our web site, We noted to her that most of the wishes on are from women; it's about 60/40 F/M on the wishes tally.

She said, "Of course."

We said, "Huh? Why is that?"

She explained, "Because we women know what you men want. We listen. So we know what you want. And because women listen so well, we anticipate your needs and wants. So you come to expect it. So you feel no need to tell us what you want - because we figured it out already.

"But men don't listen, so they don't know what we want, even if we hint. It's just like our blog says: Hints Don't Work!"

So this was a very self-reflexive moment, kind of meta. But it was interesting.

"That's why more women are posting wishes than men on," she continued. "Because you guys don't listen so we have to hammer it into your thick skulls." Okay, I made up that last part in italics, but I could hear it in her voice.

Hey, I was listening to her!