It’s been a long tumble from the height of the hype cycle for Groupon. Stock performance has been lackluster, and there’s an ever-louder chorus of doubts about the business model. So yesterday probably wasn’t the best time for CEO Andrew Mason to get caught by The Wall Street Journal admitting to a roomful of employees that he’d maybe had a little too much to drink. Whoops!
The Journal does not sound amused:
Slouched comfortably in his chair, holding forth on the prospects of a would-be Groupon, TechStars’ David Tisch expressed doubts about the name of the very event where he was, at that moment, speaking. “The word ‘daily deal’ is, like, staring me in the face, and I’m scared of it.”
“It’s poison, I think, to a large audience outside of probably this room.”
Deal With It
Apparently the one demographic daily deals giant Groupon felt it was sorely lacking was children, because kids possess so much purchasing power and all. Do you know how much kids are netting in allowance these days? Like, $20 a week at least. So Groupon decided to create a “Kidz Club” for these middle school high rollers, complete with a questionable cast of characters. The whole thing is so absurd that it’s pretty obvious that Groupon is in on the joke.
On the Groupon blog, they explained the club thusly: “At Groupon, we love kids. In fact, we love them so much that we wanted to give them a cool ‘zone’ on the ‘Net where they can hang out with brand new ‘cyber-frenz’!” We sense that someone’s tongue is firmly planted in-cheek.
Betabeat received a very meta treat in our inbox this morning: a link to this Google Offers deal sent along by a tipster who appended the Kanye-esque hashtag #salesonsalesonsales. The Google deal apparently offers a 50 percent discount to buy items on One Kings Lane, which is itself a discount site that offers sales of up to 70 percent on items like household furniture and accessories.
Hyperpublic, the two-year-old startup helmed by Lerer Ventures partner Jordan Cooper, has been acquired by Groupon for an undisclosed price.
On Friday, Mr. Cooper teased the news with a few ellipses on Twitter before linking to the announcement. “Today is an INSANE day! We are so proud to announce that Hyperpublic has been acquired by the rocket ship that is Groupon,” Hyperpublic wrote. “This is a huge win for our team, our investors, and everyone who contributed to our company over the past two years.” Then there was a party at The Standard, natch.
Caught In The Webb
Watching 60 Minutes this weekend, I was struck again by the old “algorithm” myth that pervades the tech community. As evidenced by Google’s IPO in 2004, tech investors are transfixed by “the algorithm.” Indeed, the tendency goes back even further.
The Dastardly Dreaded Groupon Effect strikes again! Over the fourth quarter of last year, American Apparel, that purveyor of domestic made goods for the would-be “fat hooker” market, racked up impressive sales. But that doesn’t mean they’re seeing the profits.
According to the New York Post, a flurry of Groupon discounts nationwide cut into margins. Despite doing a brisk business selling daily deals on “cardigans, corduroys and sexy leggings,” the Groupon offering may have cut American Apparel’s profits by nearly half last year.
So, we at Betabeat have been waiting to roll this one out for a while. Seeing as how the business year is coming to a close today—and also, like, nobody’s around to read what you’re about to read—there’s no time quite like the present to disclose the following:
My fat, white Jewish ass has been engaged in a battle with Groupon for about three months now.
IP Uh Oh
In 2011, Wall Street caught friending fever. It was a hell of a year for social media IPOs, as investment banks welcomed themselves into the money-hungry arms of Computer Nerds, Many Of Whom Should Have But Didn’t Know Better. Of course, there were a few winners that weren’t said banks, as well as a few you’ve never heard of. In 2012, Facebook will lead one of the largest tech IPOs pretty much ever, and the largest year of tech IPOs since 1999. What did we learn? Mostly, that for every bet, there’s a sucker who’s as desperate for money as most people apparently are for friends. So:
Who won, who lost, and who debuted on the market without anyone really knowing?
In the run up to its recent IPO, a number of outlets reported that the daily deal giant Groupon was running short on cash. Over at the Motley Fool, Evan Niu noted that the company had $243.9 million in cash and equivalents at the end of September, compared with $465.6 million in accrued merchant payables, that is, the money they owed people who ran Groupon deals.
The company ended up raising $700 million, but according to a source familiar with its business, there still isn’t enough cash on hand to make critical structural improvements the company needs to grow. Groupon is shelling out millions every month on hosting costs, and paying a premium to third parties. The company is very eager to construct it own data center, but simply can’t afford it.