Gilt Groupe's new chief executive officer is trying to restore the promise of the online luxury retailer by focusing on what the company does best: deep discounts on a deadline. Michelle Peluso's company is testing technology to make its limited-time-only offers more effective, even as competitors shy away from the tactic and venture capitalists call it a fad. At stake are the ambitions for an initial public offering by the company, which was once valued at $1 billion as the buzzy standard bearer of New York's startup scene.

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