Groupon plans US$15bn IPO this spring

14 Jan 2011

After spurning a US$6bn offer from Google and taking on US$950m in venture capital, it has emerged that group buying site Groupon is planning a US$15bn initial public offer in the coming months.

In recent weeks, Groupon made history as the largest financing round for a start-up after it raised US$950m in investment from Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins, T. Rowe Price and Morgan Stanley.

According to the New York Times, Groupon has met with Wall Street banks about the IPO tipped for spring.

The IPO could be the most significant web flotation since Google went public in 2004.

The fastest-growing web start-up in history?

Groupon – a play on the words “group” and “coupon” – brings business directly to the door of local businesses.

Groupon does so by using the web to enable groups of individuals to buy products in bulk. The site makes a daily offer to each and every community in the 230 markets it is active in. If a certain number of people sign up for the offer, the deal becomes available for all.

The site has more than 20m subscribers and plans to serve 300 cities worldwide by year’s end. The company has introduced seminars and a training programme for merchants who have reported they have been overwhelmed by the amount of business the site has sent their way.

The idea for Groupon came from CEO Andrew Mason and his former employer Eric Lefkofksy put in US$1m seed money to develop the idea.

The company, which is less than two years old, now employs 3,100 people and has been expanding so quickly that according to the New York Times, the Chicago company has had to relocate meetings to a nearby church.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years