Like a group of single friends hitting Vegas after one of them is jilted at the altar, Groupon can cheer up after raising $950 million in a venture capital round on the rebound.
We may never know all the details behind the collapse of what was rumored to be a $6 billion deal between Groupon and Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , although it was likely an exercise in futility anyway, since antitrust regulators would have been unlikely to approve the pairing.
So Groupon has moved on. But is raising this kind of dough overkill? Isn't this supposedly a model with margins wider than the ocean, giving the social coupon site the means to print its own money?
Well, scaling quickly is never cheap. Over the past year, Groupon has launched or acquired its way into 35 countries. The number of city-specific markets springing daily deals has grown from 30 in 2009 to 500 today.
Some other nuggets from Groupon's "in your face, Google" press release:
- Groupon grew subscribers by 2,500% over the past year -- from 2 million to more than 50 million.
- The site saved consumers more than $1.5 billion last year (though Groupon addicts would argue that it actually cost them more than $1 billion).
- Groupon has brokered deals on behalf of 58,000 local businesses, serving up more than 100,000 deals worldwide in 2010.
The first and third bullet points explain why everyone wants to either be Groupon or buy the site outright.
Groupon's lightning-quick subscriber growth has drawn OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN ) , Travelzoo (Nasdaq: TZOO ) , Yelp, and The Knot (Nasdaq: KNOT ) into offering similar programs. It also doesn't hurt that Groupon receives as much as 50% of the voucher prices it sells through its daily deals.
The merchant appeal explains why both Google and Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) showed interest in gobbling up Groupon last year. If advertisers are spending money to smoke out new customers through Groupon, that's money they won't need to be spending through local paid search ads on Google and Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT ) Bing.
Will this be a passing craze? Is Groupon the next great online advertising platform? Obviously, a consortium of early investors with deep pockets seem to believe that Groupon is just getting started. They may be getting Groupon on the rebound, but that's better than not having a shot at all.
Are Groupon and its smaller peers a passing fad? Share your thoughts in the comment box below.