|Location:||Chicago, Illinois, United States|
|Founded:||November 11, 2008|
Groupon (www.groupon.com) features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in more than 150 cities around the world. By promising businesses a minimum number of customers, Groupon can offer deals that aren’t available elsewhere.
Few VCs have a hotter hand right now than Fred Wilson. His firm, Union Square Ventures, is an investor in Twitter, Zynga, Foursquare, Tumblr, Etsy, Clickable, and more . In this episode of Founder Stories, he talks to host Chris Dixon about Union Square’s investment thesis has changed from going after all web apps to companies that are “building a large networks of engaged users.” (Watch the video above).
It has to be be both a large network and engaged users. By that requirement, he says he wouldn’t invest in Pandora (which just filed for an IPO yesterday, although this was taped a couple weeks ago) because Pandora listeners just sit back. The users aren’t doing anything in Pandora,” he says, “even though Pandora is a great company.” Similarly, he wouldn’t invest in Groupon. Not because he thinks it’s a bad business, it’s just not his area of focus. “Groupon is an ad network,” he says, “we wouldn’t invest in that.” Within ecommerce, he feels that marketplaces (like Etsy) do fall under his definition, but things like Diapers.com or Zappos would not. Wilson also mentions some companies that got away which he wishes he had invested in: AirBnB and Bump, which he lost to Sequoia.
I assume that “sale!” signs in retail businesses are usually just BS. The stores keep normal prices higher than they should be so they can offer customers a faux discount. Whether it’s always true or just often true doesn’t matter. People don’t really get all that excited about signs that say “HUGE SALE 50% OFF” or whatever. We’re desensitized to it.
Groupon has been different, though. They’ve had real discounts, verifiably way below normal retail costs. That’s why so many tens of millions of people look forward to their Groupon email every day, and why so many people sign up for skydiving lessons that they never knew they wanted.
There are signs, though, that the model may not scale infinitely forever. Beyond just common sense, I mean. Some merchants have failed to take the coupons they’ve already sold on Groupon when they saw the overwhelming volume it brought in, for example.
OpenX, provider of digital advertising technology for Web publishers around the world, has updated the ad technology platform currently in use by online juggernauts like Groupon, Orange-France Telecom and Excite Japan. The true strength of the platform is that it combines both powerful ad serving capabilities and real-time bidding on ad inventory within a single product (OpenX Enterprise, to be more precise).
The platform, which becomes available to all publishers today, is designed to help publishers efficiently manage a variety of digital revenue streams and optimize non-guaranteed and real-time bidded advertising demand.
Well, Groupon certainly isn’t afraid of rustling a few feathers. The red-hot group buying site has just posted its celeb-laden Super Bowl ads, and they’ve taken to poking fun at global crises like dwindling whale populations and deforestation. They’re a little weird, and likely to spark waves of debate and plenty of extra publicity.
Groupon rival LivingSocial will be running a Super Bowl ad as well, that reportedly tells the story of a LivingSocial addict — Groupon poked fun at this with its own rejected” ad. Guess whose commercials people will be talking about at the water cooler tomorrow?
And while some people won’t like the joke, Groupon isn’t being mean-spirited about it: its Save The Money site has offers for a variety of charity organizations. For example, making a $15 donation to GreenPeace will score you $15 in Groupon Credit (it’s essentially a free donation on your part).
Ecommerce today is imbued with the same DNA that runs through Google. It’s automated. It’s algorithmic. It’s certainly not human. And the marketing campaigns that are built with this DNA are similarly data-driven. They employ number-crunchers to capture their leads and build their databases, all the while looking for incremental ROI and arbitrage opportunities.
But a new marketing game has come to town—social commerce. And at its core is an entirely different bit of DNA: the DNA of Facebook. This new variety of social commerce is about conversations. It’s about relationships. It’s about re-humanizing online commerce. And for marketers to succeed with social commerce, they are going to have to rethink their game plan. Facebook has given us a brand new color palette. Now it’s up to us to figure out how to use it. I like to call this learning process “de-ecommercification.”
The battle of the social media Super Bowl ads continues, with daily deals Groupon just posting on its own blog about how it rejected an ad where someone goes through a “deal a day” addiction, a concept conspicuously similar to what people are reporting competitor LivingSocial has up its sleeve for its 30 second ad before this Sunday’s Steelers vs. Packer’s game.
Internet Retailer describes LivingSocial’s ad, “The pre-game spot tells the story of how one man’s life changes as a result of his “deal addiction” with LivingSocial. The campaign was created by Martin Agency.”The details of what Groupon has up its sleeve for Sunday are still unknown.
Groupon recently raised $950 million at a valuation of $4.75 billion and it is talking to bankers about going public at a $15 billion valuation sometime later this year. But what is it worth right now? SharesPost, a marketplace for private stock sales, just put out a report today estimating that Groupon’s is worth about $6 billion (between $5.95 billion and $6.07 billion to be exact).
It arrives at that number based on its own estimates of Groupon’s revenue growth and applying a multiple. (The report was prepared for SharesPost by NeXtup Research). The chart above shows the revenue estimates, going from $85 million in 2009 to $1.9 billion in 2015. The estimate for 2010 was $600 million, and for 2011 it is $920 million. These estimates are way more conservative than the $2 billion revenue run-rate we’ve reported previously (which would imply that Groupon will hit or surpass $2 billion in revenues this year). Of course, these numbers are only guesses since Groupon as a private company does not issue audited financials.
You guys aren’t going to believe this: We’re hearing that daily deals site Groupon has been aggressively trying to acquire local Q&A site Hipster for a number below $10 million, and that’s before Hipster has even formally launched! A slew of press coverage originating here has turned the site with a funny name into a media darling.
One source is telling us that Hipster has been making the rounds of Silicon Valley VC firms as well as boardrooms and was talking with Google about a possible talent acquisition (who isn’t?) before the talks turned into more of an investment prospect for Google Ventures than an acqui-hiring prospect for the mothership due to Hipster’s desire for a better return.
Google’s $6 billion bid for Groupon didn’t work out, but it wasting no time preparing its own competing Google Offers local advertising product. The first hints of Google Offers came out last week. Google confirmed it, calling it a “test of a pre-paid offers/vouchers program,” but offered no further details.
Well, we have further details, courtesy of Google’s very own search engine. (When PR fails, just Google it). There is a very simple way to get a list of active Google Offers coupons. It is kind of a back door, but if you do a search for “coupons site:maps.google.com intitle:Google Offers,” you can see almost 42,000 results, most of which link to individual active coupons. For example, here is one for a free yoga class in Chicago (Groupon’s home turf) or another one for 50 percent off lunch at a vegetarian restaurant in Watertown, Massachusetts. You can also add an Offers gadget to your iGoogle home page which shows offers near you.
Local ecommerce company Groupon recently acquired a small online couponing startup in India called SoSasta (which I’m told means ‘very cheap’). But the real leader in India’s digital coupon space is actually SnapDeal, which currently boasts over 1 million subscribers and has roughly 70 percent market share.
I caught up with Kunal Bahl, CEO of SnapDeal’s parent company Jaspers, at the DLD Conference in Germany.
Q: It’s always been quite hard for local merchants to be found. How do you look at the differences between your companies in trying to solve that problem?
Dennis: We’re more about loyalty, aiding businesses who want to reward regular customers, while Groupon I think is more about new customer acquisition. Foursquare is also users leaving tips for other users, which makes it more of a discovery thing.
This evening at the Crunchies, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason took home the coveted CEO of the Year award. But we couldn’t let him leave the stage without taking the opportunity to ask him a few questions about the red-hot company.
Our own Michael Arrington kicked things off by asking about Groupon’s press release for its recent funding round, when it “Raised, Like, A Billion Dollars“. Groupon and Mason have long had a very amusing and irreverent sense of humor. But how long can they keep that up before it causes a deal to fall through, or something else undesirable to happen?
Mason replied that he’s taking the Arnold Schwarzenegger approach to leadership. That is, he’s taking the first part of his career and doing everything stupid he can think of, so people have no expectations for him down the line (then again, he did just win CEO of the Year, so he’s not setting the bar too low).
Living Social has been offering $10 off any $20 Amazon purchase since 5am this morning and it’s been a boon huge for the company, which Amazon has invested in. Now the deal has just crossed over the one million mark, with 12 hours to go. LivingSocial tells us that there are currently 99.4K vouchers being sold each hour, 2k vouchers sold each minute and 85 vouchers being sold each second.
Already this has beat the Groupon/Gap deal which ended in $11 million worth of Groupons sold.
Educational Purpose only