|Traded as||NASDAQ: GRPN|
|Headquarters||Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|Key people||Ted Leonsis, Chairman
Eric Lefkofsky, CEO
|Revenue||US$ 2.573 billion (2013)|
|Alexa rank||391 (April 2014[update])|
|Type of site||deal-of-the-day|
Groupon (a portmanteau derived from "group coupon") is a deal-of-the-day website that features discounted gift certificates usable at local or national companies. Groupon was launched in November 2008, and the first market for Groupon was Chicago, followed soon thereafter by Boston, New York City, and Toronto. By October 2010 Groupon served more than 150 markets[clarification needed] in North America and 100 markets in Europe, Asia and South America and had 35 million registered users.
The idea for Groupon was created by now-ousted CEO and Pittsburgh native Andrew Mason. The idea subsequently gained the attention of his former employer, Eric Lefkofsky, who provided $1 million in "seed money" to develop the idea. In April 2010, the company was valued at $1.35 billion. According to a December 2010 report conducted by Groupon's marketing association and reported in Forbes Magazine and the Wall Street Journal, Groupon was "projecting that the company is on pace to make $1 billion in sales faster than any other business, ever". However, a report from Forrester Research in October 2011 suggested that the Groupon business model was a "disaster" and that the firm had become an example of "how fast an Internet darling can fall."
In its first earnings release as a public company, Groupon reported a 2011 fourth-quarter loss of $9.8 million on an adjusted basis, disappointing investors. Additional investor concern arose after the company restated 2011 revenues downward in March 2012.
- 1 History
- 2 Business
- 3 Reception
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Groupon outgrew the campaign website ThePoint.com in November 2008. Its name blends “group” and “coupon”. Groupon's first deal was a half-price offer for pizzas for the restaurant on the first floor of its building in Chicago.
Groupon owns numerous international operations, all of which were originally deal-of-the-day services similar to it, but most of which were subsequently re-branded under the Groupon name after acquisition; these have included the European-based MyCityDeal (17 May 2010), the South American ClanDescuento (22 June 2010), the Japanese service Qpod.jp and Russian Darberry.ru (both on 17 August 2010) and the Singaporean Beeconomic.com (30 November 2010), which is founded and led by Karl and Christopher Chong.
Groupon bought the Indian deal-of-the-day website SoSasta.com in January 2011, and re-branded it as "Crazeal by Groupon Inc"., which is now led by Ankur Warikoo. The Groupon acquisitions of uBuyiBuy launched services under the Groupon name in Hong Kong. Groupon also acquired GroupsMore.com in Malaysia to expand its business there.
Prior to these acquisitions, Groupon had bought out the mobile technology company Mob.ly. The Point, Inc., the predecessor to Groupon, bought the trademark "GROUP-ONS" from its originator in February 2009 under terms which allows the originator and first registrant of the trademark to continue the use of this trademark.
In January 2012, the company acquired Mertado, a social shopping service based on the Facebook platform. In May 2012, Groupon acquired Breadcrumb, a point of sale system and iPad app that targets local restaurants. Based on the May acquisition, Groupon launched Breadcrumb PRO and Breadcrumb POS, expanding its target beyond restaurants to include all types of local business.
On September 24, 2012, Groupon acquired restaurant reservation and discount site Savored for an undisclosed amount, providing Groupon with an inlet to higher-end restaurants. Groupon also announced that it would continue to operate Savored independently from the main Groupon website.
On January 11, 2013, Groupon acquired real-time location sharing mobile app and small business service provider Glassmap, which was founded and led by Geoffrey Woo, Jon Zhang, and Jonathan Chang. On September 9, 2013, Groupon announced acquisition of European last-minute travel app Blink, which provides same-day hotel reservations.
Prior to the company's fifth anniversary, the Groupon website was completely redesigned and new features were added in November 2013. According to the SVP of product management, the original website was "designed for a deal of the day and the new site is designed for a marketplace." Following the website relaunch, the company rewarded a random selection of one million customers on November 20, 2013 with up to US$5,000 worth of "Groupon bucks."
On December 3, 2013, Groupon recorded its biggest four-day weekend of sales (Black Friday through Cyber Monday) since the website was founded in 2008, with billings reportedly up 30 percent year over year.
The company offers one "Groupon" per day in each of the markets it serves. The Groupon works as an assurance contract using ThePoint's platform: if a certain number of people sign up for the offer, then the deal becomes available to all; if the predetermined minimum is not met, no one gets the deal that day. This reduces risk for retailers, who can treat the coupons as quantity discounts as well as sales promotion tools. Groupon makes money by keeping approximately half the money the customer pays for the coupon.
For example, an $80 massage could be purchased by the consumer for $40 through Groupon, and then Groupon and the retailer would split the $40. That is, the retailer gives a massage valued at $80 and gets approximately $20 from Groupon for it (under a 50%/50% split). Or, if $240 worth of home painting services is purchased by the consumer for $50 through Groupon, then the business gets $25 and Groupon keeps $25. The consumer gets the massage, or the home painting service, in these examples, from the retailer for which they initially paid $40 (or $50) to Groupon. There are certain businesses to which Groupon initially did not offer its services, including shooting ranges and strip clubs; however, shooting ranges have been featured on Groupon. 
Unlike classified advertising, the merchant does not pay any upfront cost to participate: Groupon collects personal information from willing consumers and then contacts only those consumers, primarily by daily email, who may possibly be interested in a particular product or service.
Groupon employs a large number of copywriters who draft descriptions for the deals featured by email and on the website. Groupon's promotional text for the 'deals' has been seen as a contributing factor to the popularity of the site, featuring a distinctive mix of thorough fact-checking and witty humor.
There are potential problems with the business model. For example, a successful deal could temporarily swamp a small business with too many customers, risking a possibility that customers will be dissatisfied, or that there won't be enough product to meet the demand. Gap, a large clothing retailer, was able to handle 445,000 coupons in a national deal (although it experienced server problems at one point), but a smaller business could become suddenly flooded with customers. One coffee shop in Portland, Oregon struggled with an increase in customers for three months, when it sold close to 1,000 Groupons on the one day it was offered, according to one report. In response to similar problems, Groupon officials state that 'deal' subscriptions should be capped in advance to a reasonable number.
Many merchants have believed that their Groupon deals would help them build a loyal customer base which shops directly with the merchant, without Groupon in the middle. However, in many cases a Groupon deal merely attracts one-time bargain hunters who are often put off by the full retail price (which would be at least double the price of a coupon that is discounted by at least 50%) and do not return until they encounter another Groupon deal that suits them. Of the merchants featured in North America in Q4 2012, 84% continued to run deals in Deal Bank as of the end of February 2013. 50% of Groupon deals were with merchants refeaturing with Groupon in Q4 2012.
In a 2011 TechCrunch analysis of Groupon, writer Rakesh Agrawal likened its business model to loansharking. As well as being a bad deal for most merchants, he argued, it imperiled the company's long-term prospects. "Groupon is essentially holding a portfolio of loans backed by the receivables of small businesses," he wrote. "If a business goes under, consumers will come back to Groupon for their money back. Unless Groupon is actually doing credit assessments on businesses that it chooses to feature, this is a big risk for Groupon." Only a merchant on the verge of bankruptcy could reasonably expect to come out ahead from a Groupon deal. "If you're lucky, the upfront cash will be enough to help you stay afloat. If not, well, you were already going out of business. It may be your best option."
Agrawal predicted that, over time, Groupon's merchant customer base would contract to only those businesses that could profitably exploit its business model, such as yoga studios or other services that could offer customers long-term subscriptions not bound by the Groupon terms. When the company reported in the second quarter of 2012 that its revenues had declined along with customer growth and the amount of money existing customers spent on the site, Slate tech journalist Farhad Manjoo said Agrawal had been vindicated. "I told you so", Agrawal tweeted.
In 2010, it was reported that local merchants found it difficult to get Groupon interested in agreeing to a particular deal. According to the Wall Street Journal, seven of every eight possible deals suggested by merchants were dismissed by Groupon.
The site has recently launched a mobile application available on Wap, Android, Blackberry, iPhone and Windows Phone 7. It allows users to buy deals on their phones and retrieve them using the screen as a coupon. Also Groupon is now a part of several Daily Deal Aggregators, which helps them expand their target audience, gain traffic and increase sales and revenue.
In February 2011, Groupon Russia announced it would join the Russian Company Mail.ru in order to start offering deals on its social network Odnoklassniki. This way, users would be able to buy and share deals from Groupon on their profiles.
In addition to daily local deals, Groupon’s current channels are: Groupon Goods, launched in September 2011, which focuses on discounted merchandise; Groupon Getaways, which offers vacation packages and travel deals; and GrouponLive, where consumers can find discounts on ticketed events—concerts, sporting events, theater, etc.
Groupon has also emerged as a check on price increases for certain essential commodities in many countries. Recently, in India Groupon announced that it would sell onions for Rs 9 ($0.14) per Kg in a sharp contrast to the market price of Rs 70-80 per Kg.
Groupon breaks into new markets by identifying successful local businesses, first by sending in an advance a number of employees to research the local market; when it finds a business with outstanding reviews, salespeople approach it and explain the model, and use social marketing sites such as Facebook to further promote the idea.
Groupon serves 500 markets and 48 countries, the many major geographic markets internationally include cites in the United States, Canada, Morocco, Ukraine, Taiwan, Brazil, Germany, Greece, Finland, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, India, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Puerto Rico, Japan, Turkey, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Colombia, South Korea, Sweden, Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Norway, Romania, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Russia, South Africa and Thailand.
In Australia, Groupon initially entered into the market place as "Stardeals" due to legal disputes between Groupon and an Australian company, Scoopon. The two companies agreed on an out of court settlement by July 2012.
On February 19, 2011 The Wall Street Journal reported that Groupon was preparing to launch in China. Groupon subsequently entered into the China market in a joint venture with Tencent and launched "Gaopeng". After a year of struggling in the established market, Goapeng subsequently merged with Futuan. Groupon is also expanding into the MENA region with its launch of Groupon UAE on June 16, 2011.
Groupon New Zealand launched on 10 May 2011.
Groupon entered the Indian market through the acquisition of local company SoSasta in Jan 2011. The Indian company was renamed Crazeal in Oct 2011 and CEO Ankur Warikoo was placed at the helm. Finally, after winning a battle to acquire the groupon.co.in domain name, the Indian business was renamed Groupon in Nov 2012.
Worldwide, there are over 500 sites similar to Groupon, including over 100 in US. However, by December 2010, only one competitor, LivingSocial, had been described as a serious competitor; according to one estimate, it received an investment from Amazon of $175 million. Other notable firms operating in the market include Plum district, Jasmere.com, meerkatmall.com, and chi-spree.com.
In October 2011, Adlibrium announced Adlibrium Dailies, the first free daily deal service for merchants which, according to estimates, reaches nearly 4 million consumers via email and mobile combined.
The growth of Groupon buying also created an increase of "deal comparison websites" such as Amazon Local.
New Enterprise Associates, Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell are investors in Groupon (Lefkofsky and Keywell later formed the investment company Lightbank; Groupon is listed as a Lightbank investment). In April 2010, Groupon raised $135 million from Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian investment firm. On December 29, 2010, Groupon's executive board approved a change to Groupon's certificate of incorporation that would permit the company to raise $950 million in venture capital funding, based on a valuation of $6.4 billion. On June 2, 2011, Groupon filed to go public under the ticker symbol GRPN. The IPO was handled by Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group, and Credit Suisse Group.
From January 2010 through January 2011, Groupon’s U.S. monthly revenues grew from $11 million to $89 million. Total 2011 U.S. revenues were an estimated $460 million. Groupon’s 2011 estimated revenues are in the $3 billion to $4 billion range.
In October 2010, Yahoo! was rumored to have offered over $3 billion to acquire Groupon. On November 30, 2010, it was reported that Google offered $5.3 billion with a $700 million earnout to acquire Groupon and was rejected on December 3, 2010. After the rejection of the Google/Groupon buy-out, Groupon proceeded with their own initial public offering.
Groupon’s gross billings in October 2011 increased 1.5% to $147 million from $144 million in September 2011, according to independent data provider Yipit.
In early November 2012, Groupon reported they had missed their third quarter revenue estimates, posting a revenue of $586.6 million while estimates were at $591 million. This caused Groupon's stocks to fall to as low as $2.93/share early in the trading day. Groupon has said to have lost 80% of its value since its initial public offering over one year ago.
Groupon Now application
Groupon has developed an application aimed at smartphone and tablet users application consisting of the two buttons: "I'm Hungry" and "I'm Bored,” which locate the closest and best deals for food or entertainment, respectively, using geolocation.
On February 20, 2012, Groupon announced a "VIP Membership" program, with a membership fee of $30 annually. This program gives VIP members access to deals 12 hours earlier than non-members, as well as access to expired deals (in the "Deal Vault") and easy returns of deals (in exchange for "Groupon bucks"). Bodo
Groupon MerchantOS is a suite of products and tools for merchants running with Groupon. The suite includes Groupon Rewards, Groupon Scheduler and Groupon Payments.
Groupon Rewards On May 10, 2012, Groupon announced the launch of Groupon Rewards in the United States. Rewards is a loyalty program for merchants to reward customers for repeat visits with a Reward of their choosing. Unlike “buy 9 and get the 10th free” punchcards, a consumer earns Rewards by using any major credit card saved in their Groupon account when they visit their favorite local merchants. When a customer spends an amount pre-determined by the merchant, the customer unlocks a Reward to use on a future visit.
Groupon Scheduler Groupon Scheduler is an online booking tool for merchants, allowing their consumers to seamlessly book appointments for services at the time of purchasing their Groupon deal. This tool is targeted at merchants running deals where appointments are required, for example in the healthy and beauty industry or for classes and activities.
Groupon Payments The newest addition to the suite of merchant-facing products is Groupon Payments, which was launched in September 2012. Groupon Payments offers merchants an infrastructure for accepting credit card payments at a low cost.
Super Bowl commercial
Groupon aired a controversial Super Bowl XLV advertisement in which actor Timothy Hutton begins by making a plea for the people of Tibet before delivering the punch line: "But they still whip up an amazing fish curry." Critics of the ad took to several social media outlets to argue that Groupon was using the plight of Tibetans to sell their services. The following day, Groupon responded by defending their commercial and their philanthropic stance.
Violation of gift certificate expiration laws
In March 2011, Eli R. Johnson filed a lawsuit in federal court against Groupon, based on a claim that the company issues "gift certificates" that are not allowed under the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act. The act prohibits retailers from setting expiration dates less than 5 years after a card is purchased. The class action lawsuit was settled on December 17, 2012.
Initial public offering filing
Some analysts claim that Groupon operates "like" a Ponzi scheme, according to interpretation of Initial public offering (IPO) documentation, because it has publicly disclosed that it is losing approximately US$100 million per quarter, has a net negative balance of $230 million, and is using later investors' money to pay off earlier investors.
On August 10, 2011, Groupon updated its IPO filing, after facing scrutiny from regulators and analysts over its use of a non-standard accounting metric called Adjusted Consolidated Segment Operating Income. Critics argued that ACSOI was used by Groupon to present a misleading metric of profitability. Groupon's original IPO filing with ACSOI accounting showed a positive operating income of $60.6 million for 2010; after replacing the ACSOI metric with standard accounting metrics, Groupon's IPO filing reported an operating loss of $420 million for 2010.
Analysts also criticized Groupon's decision to pay out over $940 million of the $1.12 billion in venture capital Groupon had raised before the IPO - over 84% of its venture capital raised - as cash payouts to its 3 founders and early backers, rather than into the money-losing company. Co-founder Eric Lefkofsky alone received over $300 million in early 2011, just weeks before the company filed its IPO paperwork. The large cash payout also made Groupon technically insolvent when it filed for its IPO.
On October 21, 2011, Groupon set terms for its IPO on NASDAQ, planning to offer 30 million shares at $16–18. The terms implied a dealsize of $510 million and a valuation of $11.2 billion. On November 4, Groupon raised $700 million, 30 percent more than it sought, valuing them at about $12.7 billion.
As of 4 November 2011 Groupon was valued at $13 billion and the float was at 35 million shares going at $20 each whereas they were last priced at between $16 and $18. On their opening on Nasdaq, Groupon shares jumped more than 50 percent to a high of $29.52. However, on November 22, 2011 the stock price fell below its IPO level.
On Wednesday, July 11, 2012, just eight months after the company went public, Groupon's stock hit its lowest level since IPO at $7.72 and closed at $7.77. On Tuesday, August 14, 2012, Groupon's stock price dropped 27% and fell as low as $5.49. On Tuesday, September 3, 2012, Groupon's stock price closed at another all time low at $4.15 dropping almost 80% below Groupon's IPO price ($20).
Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission
In March 2011, the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission notified Groupon that it was in violation of state law that prohibits discounting of alcoholic beverages. Groupon notified Massachusetts subscribers of a temporary suspension in the use of its discount vouchers for alcohol at participating restaurants.
UK Office of Fair Trading investigation
During 2011 there were reported breaches of British advertising regulations to the Advertising Standards Authority. In December 2011 the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) launched an investigation into Groupon after the firm broke regulations 48 times in 11 months.
The OFT concluded in March 2012 that Groupon was in "widespread breaches" of UK consumer laws and were ordered to "clean up their practices" within three months including ensuring its website was accurate, realistic, claims related to any beauty or health products offered were substantiated and that refund and cancellation policies were in accordance with current regulations.
Live Off Groupon
In May 2010, Groupon created a challenge to live off Groupons for one year. The contestant Josh Stevens traveled throughout the United States and to the United Kingdom and purchased all food, drinks, travel, entertainment and more from Groupon for 365 days. At the end of the year, he received a prize of $100,000.
For three years, Groupon has celebrated the holiday season with its own holiday, Grouponicus. The company and its holiday mascot offer bundled holiday deals, shopping tips and promotes gifting.
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