Groupon IPO: Facts, figures and pure fiction

When Groupon sniffed at a $6bn bid from Google late last year, digital jaws dropped. But with an IPO imminent, valuing the group-buying firm at up to $25bn, it looks like the joke's on Google.

Groupon's entrails are out for the scrying. Its profit and loss sheet, revenues, subscriber numbers, and SWOT analysis are now public domain.

The gist:

  • 2010 revenue: $713.4m
  • First quarter of 2011 revenue: $644.7m
  • Net losses of $389.6 million and $102.7 million in 2010 and the first quarter of 2011, respectively
  • 83.1 million subscribers across 43 countries
  • over 70 million deals sold since inception

It's a pretty mixed picture. Growth is exponential, sure. But the debt is heaping up. Is Groupon really worth $25bn?

There's definitely scope to become profit-making. Groupon has the market share and the clout to break new territories and demand ever-increasing margins from a greater variety of businesses (at the moment, the lion's share of deals are generally trying to remove hair, be it by laser, wax or plain old scissors, feed you, or make you thinner).

But why hasn't Andrew Mason, Groupon's founder, been bolder to date? Chicago-based Groupon was launched in 2008. It now has over 7,000 staff beavering away in the apparatus. Apart from the recent launch of Groupn Now!, Groupon has been peddling the same wares for an eon (in tech terms). By now, there could be a shopping social network (much like today's 60-second start-up, Shopow) or a sideline in common or garden vouchers, much like MyVoucherCodes.

Mason's mission statement doesn't suggest a sudden desire to become a pioneer on the forefront of the digital innovation. Nay, he just wants to "make people happy". Less bleeding edge, more fluffums.

He says: "We believe that when once-great companies fall, they don't lose to competitors, they lose to themselves - and that happens when they stop focusing on making people happy.

"As such, do not intend to be reactive to competitors. We will watch them, but we won't distract ourselves with decisions that aren't designed primarily to make our customers and merchants happy."

Basically, you're going to keep doing what you're doing, while other people make more and more money off the business model that you created and made lucrative. Interesting.

More on the Groupon IPO as it happens....


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