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Did Google Acquire Groupon for $2.5 Billion?

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After showing unparalleled growth in 2010 -- Forbes named it the "fastest growing company ever" -- Groupon may have just found itself a buyer.

The daily deal website offers limited-time discounts if a certain number of users also snatch the deal. Basically, it's a perpetual Black Friday sale all year long. The concept has gained heavy traction among its exploding user base. After all, the perfect marriage of coupons, social networks, and a ticking Let's Make a Deal clock is hard to pass up.

And major corporations have been paying attention.

Groupon's valuation grew to $1.35 billion this April, and that amount more than doubled by the start of November. Rumors circulated of interested buyers that included the likes of Yahoo, Amazon, and eBay -- in October, the latter two struck up partnerships rather than forge buyouts. Yahoo, on the other hand, low-balled the company and Groupon balked -- according to All Things D.

But now, a source close to the deal told Vator News that, following talks this month, Google has purchased Groupon for $2.5 billion. Neither party has confirmed the acquisition, however.

Despite the sound logic of a Google Places/group discount union, VentureBeat's Owen Thomas voiced his reservations. He believes that Groupon's personal touch doesn't quite fit within Google's giant automated system.

"Groupon, which has run into bad publicity when a handful of small businesses got overwhelmed by the reaction to their discount offers, needs a hands-on approach and consultative sales, not Google's classic automated approach," Thomas wrote.

Still, if executed properly, Groupon could be Google's shrewdest acquisition since YouTube.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.