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Tuesday, November 30, 2010 2:15 PM

Google to Offer Groupon $5-6 Billion; From Startup to Megabucks in 2 Years; "Grouponicus" Holiday Deals

Mish Moved to MishTalk.Com Click to Visit.

It's not easy to to go from startup to $6 billion in two short years. That Groupon is about to do so is testimony as to just what can happen when a good idea goes viral.

Certainly Groupon had the right idea in these cost-conscious times: super-deals on goods and services that people want.

Groupon hooks up buyers with sellers at fantastic prices, but only if enough people sign up. Sellers determine how big the group of buyers need to be in advance, and how many offers they wish to make.

That simple idea will now net Groupon a reported $5-6 Billion deal with Google.

Please consider Google Is Said to Be Poised to Buy Groupon

Google is near a deal to acquire Groupon, the pioneering online discounter, for as much as $6 billion, people with direct knowledge of the matter told DealBook on Monday.

At that price, Groupon — known for its daily discounts — would be one of Google’s largest acquisitions, dwarfing its $3.1 billion purchase of DoubleClick, the display advertising giant, in 2007.

The deal would also be Google’s boldest foray in local business online advertising, a large and untapped market it has been trying to get into, most recently by promoting Marissa Mayer to oversee the local business and attempting to buy Yelp, the local review site, last year.

The average Groupon deal offers 50 to 90 percent off retail goods and services, from restaurant certificates to skydiving lessons. It has grown beyond local merchants to encompass retailers like Gap, which offered a nationwide deal this summer. On the day of the Gap promotion, Groupon sold 440,000 units and generated $11 million in revenue.

Groupon’s success has helped turn the company into a cash-generating machine, signing up more than 12 million registered users and reaping more than $350 million in estimated annual revenue.
"Grouponicus Deals"

Techland reports Groupon Starts "Grouponicus Deals" Series For Holiday Season
If you're one of the people who like taking advantage of Groupon's deals, your holiday is about to get better. In addition to posting a deal of the day, Groupon will also post Grouponicius offers, additional items that would make great gifts for the season.

There will be a total of 650 deals throughout this season, according to TechCrunch.Unlike the typical deals that are done at the end of the day, Grouponicius offers will last from three to five days. The first deal is a download of Rihanna's newest album LOUD, available for only $5. It marks the first time that the social buying site has attempted to distribute digital music. Some of the other offers will include popular deals that people might have missed the first time, Groupon's CEO Andrew Mason told the Wall Street Journal.
Refer Friends and Get $10 "Groupon Bucks"

Groupon has a referral program in which participants can accumulate $10 Groupon Buck for each referral.

A few months back I had the idea of accumulating the biggest pile of Groupon Bucks ever (although I have no idea what I would do with them). Alas someone actually has to buy something within 72 hours for anyone to get $10.

It's a catchy system. People getting all their friends to sign up, Groupon gets free names, and few ever collect $10 in Groupon bucks.

My aspiration of accumulating a mountain of Groupon bucks is thus now shattered, but if you are going to join anyway (it's free), you may as well use my ID to Sign Up For Groupon Offers For Your City.

After having done so, you can "Embrace Grouponicus"

Is it Possible to Live Off Groupon Alone for a Full Year?

It began with a challenge from Groupon’s founder, Andrew Mason to see who would be willing to "Live Off Groupon" for an entire year, with no help from family.
Could you live off Groupons for an entire year?

The premise is simple: No cash. The Groupawn (customer chosen to Live Off Groupon) has nothing but a year’s supply of Groupons good for the best things to eat, do, see and buy across the country. From skydiving and upscale cuisine to body waxing and foreign language classes, Groupon deals will shape the Groupawn’s daily life. He will need to rely on the kindness of strangers for social niceties (like tax and tip) and basic human needs (like somewhere to sleep and a ride to any of Groupon’s 60 cities.)

The entry page warned, “Who shouldn’t apply!? Probably everyone shouldn’t apply. We want to be honest from the beginning: this will be a catastrophic disruption to your life. But you will have zero expenses for a year. You’ll get to travel across the country trying all the cool stuff we feature on Groupon. And you might get $100,000…in money.”

But Josh Stevens stood out from the pack, displaying creativity and a will to do anything (like hitching a ride on a mail truck during the semifinal interviews in Chicago.) We confiscated his wallet, sublet his apartment and put his belongings in storage. He is ours.

Josh began his journey on May 10, 2010 – if he lasts until May 10, 2011, he will earn $100,000.

The Rules

Only five people allowed to visit Josh once during one year
No overnight visits from friends/family
No care packages unless approved by Groupon
No performing jobs for goods or money
Bartering Groupons for goods or services is allowed
Must be an exemplary Groupon customer at all times / polite, excellent tipper

About Josh - The Contest Winner

Josh Stevens is a 28 year old man from Chicago, Illinois, who applied for Live Off Groupon in between applying for grad school. He sports two arms, two legs, a lot of height and a jolly demeanor. He considers himself a foodie, a night owl and a Rockband enthusiast, but above all else, he is the Groupawn.
One Brave Soul Lives Off Groupon

It's now 200 days in. "Groupawn" Josh Stevens is still going strong. You can follow him at Live Off Groupon.

Back in August I had a few questions for Groupon. My questions were promptly answered by Groupon's Julie Mosser.

I had intended to do an article on Groupon back then. For some reason it just never happened. Here are my questions as they are still pertinent.

Contest Questions

  • How can someone live off Groupons, be a generous tipper and not use cash? It seems physically impossible. Even without the tipping factor and “unlimited Groupons” the deals all have a cash price. Even a helicopter ride for $70 and a savings of $200 or whatever, still costs $70.
  • Can you please explain how “unlimited Groupons” can possibly cover all costs including tipping?
  • Other Josh Stevens with an “unlimited” amount, what is largest amount of Groupons anyone has?
  • What percentage of the time so far, is Josh Stevens living in a hotel vs. other offers.

Groupon Replies

Hi Mish

Thanks for your interest in Groupon! All good questions...

Josh has been provided with unlimited Groupons that he didn't have to pay for, so even if the deal "still costs $70," Groupon gave it to him.

Groupons do not cover tax or gratuity, which is what makes the program such a smart marketing vehicle - Josh has to reach out on his blog (www.liveoffgroupon.com) Twitter, and Facebook in order to find complete strangers willing to help him.

To date he has found people willing to donate lodging, plane tickets, etc....but he can only accept them if there's some sort of barter or trade.

It's difficult to say what's the largest amount of Groupons someone has because they're constantly redeemed - it's not unusual for our best customers in each market to have a 'bank' of 40-60 that they're constantly using and replenishing.

Although we have Marcus Hotels and the Fairmont West Coast collection, Josh has spent less than half his time in hotels.

Let me know if I can get you anything else.

Julie Mosser
There you have it. "Groupawn" Josh Stevens is sailing for $100,000 and the story of a lifetime. The Groupon owners are sailing for $6 billion and the deal of a lifetime. Dreams are still possible and it can all start with the simplest of ideas.

Best wishes to both Josh Stevens and Groupon.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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