Is Groupon Better Off with Yahoo, Google (Or on its own?)

Groupon has been a phenomenal success in the deal a day space, and we envision continued success for the segment’s pioneer. But what shape will that success take?

At our Marketplaces conference last March in San Diego, CEO Andrew Mason told us that he felt that Groupon wasn’t so much a deals company as a City Guide. The clever writing, daily emails and targeted demographic all made it seem like “media” to him; something that will have a higher circulation in his home town of Chicago than The Chicago Tribune by year-end.

There is certainly a media aspect with Groupon. In addition to its two or three daily deals, it has also started selling national banner ads, and done well with them.

But frankly, we don’t see Groupon’s future so much as a “city guide.” To us, it is more of a next generation small business leads generator: helping small businesses at the local level, and franchises at the national level (see The Gap).

It is a role that that the company has been vigorously pursuing. Recently, it has been focused on building a personalized platform for deals out of its new Silicon Valley office. It has also been developing a slate of small business services that allow SMBs to trigger (and manage) their own deals – and presumably, manage their own lists — not unlike Perry Evans’ work in developing Closely.

Is all this worth $3 billion to Yahoo? Or even more to Google (per today’s report in AllthingsD)? Would these efforts win synergies from those companies, or would they be stifled? And with 180+ deal a day companies now following in Groupon’s footsteps – plus branded efforts from Yelp, AOL, Angie’s List and others — how unique is Groupon’s longterm value proposition? And what will be the impact of deal aggregation by companies like Yahoo, The Deal Map and others?

These are the questions their bankers will be asking as they look to acquire Groupon. And they are the questions we’ll be getting at on our Deal a Day/Pure Pay for Performance Superforum at ILM 2010, which includes:
Sean Smyth, VP of Business Development, Groupon
Jim Sampey, Executive VP, Cox Target Media
Prashant Nedungadi, CEO, Nimble Commerce
Martin Tobias, CEO,Tippr
Mike Rutz, VP, Angie’s List
Mike Coleman, VP, DealChicken.com/Gannett Phoenix
Jennifer Dulski, CEO, The Deal Map
Landy Ung, CEO, 8Coupons.com
Thomas Cornelius, CEO, Adility

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