Groupon Mania is apparently a popular export.
China's e-Business Research Center claims that 1,200 Groupon-esque sites have launched in the world's most populous nation since January. Now the country's leading search engine is getting in on the fun.
Baidu is doing exactly what the leading stateside portals should be doing in diving headfirst into this niche. If Groupon was able to go from launching its repurposed website two years ago to apparently rebuffing Google's
Google and Yahoo!
Baidu is doing it right. A month ago, it launched its Shenbian hub, a Web 2.0 destination for users to post restaurant, hotel, and product reviews. It is incorporating its group-buying deal engine with Shenbian in a marriage that makes as much sense as peanut butter and chocolate -- or Mongolian beef with a side of white rice.
In other words, the company that commands more than two-thirds of China's search queries is creating its own version of Yelp and its own version of Groupon -- and padding them together like Play-Doh art.
Brilliant! Are you watching, Google? Taking notes, Yahoo!?
Both companies have enough bored engineers to code a Groupon clone during a lunch break. Then it's just a matter of slapping it over their roadmap platform. If they prefer something a little easier, they can snap up Yelp, OpenTable
China's dot-com darlings have never been shy about aping successful Western companies. Baidu is in the process of making its paid search platform as transparent as Google. Behind every successful SINA
Now it's time for Google and Yahoo! to learn by Baidu's example. We all know social coupons are viral, lucrative, and growing in popularity.
Get on it, boys.
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Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Baidu, Google, and OpenTable are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Sina is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. The Fool owns shares of Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors.
Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz has only been to China once, but he relishes admiring its dot-com revolution from afar. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.