Groupon has had a heck of a ride in 2011 (as has the whole daily deals business). It kicked off the year with a mega-round at a mega-valuation, and thanks to investors’ interest, some secondary market hype and an alphabet’s worth of clones, Andrew Mason’s daily deals titan rode a wave of investor euphoria all the way to a $20 billion valuation. But as it reached that crest, things started to head south. And, sideways. The daily deals industry has inflated to a phenomenal size, but no one knows what it precisely threatens to do with all its clout. Three months ago, consumers said they felt inundated through their inbox with daily deals offerings—which means that, as the industry goes from e-mail to mobile phone, competitors will have to keep up with the trend shift or get left behind. Already, some players in the space (some notable recent entrants, to boot) have felt the pains of a growing industry. What’s next… is anybody’s guess. Here’s a slideshow of some recent news on the development of the daily deal business, including some good and some bad.
What’s Wrong: Facebook’s foray into the daily deals space was a brief one. The company launched, then pulled, Facebook Deals within four months.
What’s Right: Recognizing the potential of its user base, combined with its mapping capabilities, Facebook held onto its “Check-in Deals” option, however, hoping that using vendor-contributed content (rather than that solicited by a sales staff) would still help the social network net some extra revenue, all while doing less work. This latest trial, unlike Facebook’s daily deals business, is still ongoing, so there’s a chance that Zuckerberg will make more by doing less. That would be the smartest move of all.
What’s Wrong: Well, Yelp IS keeping its daily deals program, which must make it a little bit more healthy than daily deals sites that are shutting down entirely or selling assets to water parks, right? After one report questioned whether Yelp would shut down its daily deals offerings entirely, its CEO posted a blog item on the company’s site stating that they’re not completely eliminating the e-mail offerings—they’re just cutting staff and focusing on quality. But it’s never easy to do a job with fewer boots on the ground… and only about a dozen people. Wonder how good that half-billion dollar offer from Google seems now?
[slide title=”Google Offers”]
What’s Wrong: Like other copycats, Google Offers also struggled out of the gate in 2011. According to Yipit (and, Reuters reporting), the company is generating less revenue on more deals. Further, according to the report, Google Offers’ returns on vouchers are far below that of competitors Groupon and LivingSocial.
What’s Right: However, Google Offers’ market share is growing—and there aren’t a whole lot of things Google has gotten into that it failed to pursue to profitability.
What’s Wrong: What hasn’t Groupon mucked up along the way to its still-anticipated IPO? Following up on a wholly-accurate post from our Connie Loizos, a PR flak for Groupon called her work a “nastigram,” whatever that is. This was right around the time a different flak quit on the company. The company has delayed its IPO, even as analysts are suggesting the company is months away from running out of cash.
Aside from that, things have gone rather well, not including CEO Andrew Mason’s well-publicized wedding this month that would have potentially conflicted with the IPO, the company’s pullback from China, its initial ASCOI accounting methods, which were summarily bashed out of its S-1 by detractors, and the fact that Groupon’s founders have already made substantial equity exits in exchange for cash. All of this said: Groupon’s got to have better odds in the daily deals space than any company that is pulling back from it. They’re all-in.
What’s Wrong: When a water park operator in the Beehive State acquires most of the assets of a daily deals site, chances are the acquisition wasn’t on the greatest terms. Customers are complaining about CityDeals. Seven Peaks, the buyer, left CityDeals’ liabilities behind in its acquisition of the deal site’s assets.