Is Groupon Better Off With Yahoo, Google (or on Its Own?)

Groupon has been a phenomenal success in the deal-a-day space, and we envision continued success for the segment’s pioneer. But what shape will that success take?

At our Marketplaces conference last March in San Diego, CEO Andrew Mason told us that he felt that Groupon wasn’t so much a deals company as a city guide. The clever writing, daily e-mails and targeted demographic all made it seem like “media” to him — something that will have a higher circulation in his hometown of Chicago than The Chicago Tribune by year-end.

There is certainly a media aspect with Groupon. In addition to its two or three daily deals, it has also started selling national banner ads and done well with them.

But frankly, we don’t see Groupon’s future so much as a “city guide.” To us, it is more of a next generation small-business leads generator, helping small businesses at the local level, and franchises at the national level (see Gap).

It is a role that that the company has been vigorously pursuing. Recently, it has been focused on building a personalized platform for deals out of its new Silicon Valley office. It has also been developing a slate of small-business services that allow SMBs to trigger (and manage) their own deals — and presumably, manage their own lists — not unlike Perry Evans’ work in developing Closely.

Is all this worth $3 billion to Yahoo? Or even more to Google (per today’s report in AllthingsD)? Would these efforts win synergies from those companies, or would they be stifled? And with 180-plus deal-a-day companies now following in Groupon’s footsteps – plus branded efforts from Yelp, AOL, Angie’s List and others — how unique is Groupon’s long-term value proposition? And what will be the impact of deal aggregation by companies like Yahoo, The Dealmap and others?

These are the questions their bankers will be asking as they look to acquire Groupon. And they are the questions we’ll be getting at during our Deal a Day/Pure Pay for Performance SuperForum at ILM:10, which includes:

Sean Smyth, VP of Business Development, Groupon
Jim Sampey, COO, Cox Target Media
Prashant Nedungadi, CEO, NimbleCommerce
Martin Tobias, CEO, Tippr
Mike Rutz, VP, Angie’s List
Mike Coleman, VP, Digital Media, Gannett Phoenix
Jennifer Dulski, CEO, The Dealmap
Landy Ung, Cofounder, 8coupons.com
Thomas Cornelius, CEO, Adility

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Perry

    It’s simple. If they really believe in themselves, they would be a fool to sell right now. A service that is so uniquely branded and with near perfect access to capital and accelerated growth will suffer from a major challenge in the hands of someone as “non-social” as Google (ask @dens), or in such turmoil as Yahoo.

    If they sell it means that they don’t believe they can live up to their own story.

    Ignore any other “shareholder value” or “1+1=5” b.s. It really is that simple.

  2. Peter Krasilovsky

    Thanks Perry. I can argue both sides of that one…..

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