Headline, August30, 2013



Groupon's strategy,  -like the game of Risk, was World Domination. Early on ''we chose speed over integration,'' Mason says.

In April of 2010, Groupon received $135 million cash infusion from investors, including Russian internet billionaire Yuri Milner and several prominent Silicon Valley Firms. After that its growth was like a tidal wave.

On April 19, 2010, Groupon expanded into Canada, its first foreign country. The very next month, Mason purchased a European daily-deals site called Citydeal, which had positioned itself as the main European Groupon clone. Overnight, Groupon went from being in 2 countries to being in 18. ''Not bad for 19 months work,'' said Mason at the time.

Mason and his team began snapping up Groupon's copycat competitors like candy. In June they entered Chile and Brazil. In August they expanded to Russia and Japan. Then Singapore, South Africa, India and the U.A.E, and China. Then in no time, Groupon was in 46 countries and more than 500 cities. ''We wanted to really own the market,'' said Groupon's president and chief operating officer. ''We figured the best thing to do was grow our business very aggressively. We wanted to not just be the 800 pound gorilla but the   -8000 pound gorilla.''

In spite of this, Groupon wasn't always first to the market. Some of the clones began registering Groupon Trademark rights or local domain names in other countries before Mason and his team got around to it. In some cases Groupon was able to buy those rights  -paying anywhere between a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.  But as Groupon grew in popularity, many clones decided not to sell out. In some critical markets, Mason found himself engaging in hostage negotiations to use the Groupon name.

In Australia, a daily-deal company called Scoopon filed for the Groupon trademark and also purchased the Groupon domain name. Mason offered the owner of the company nearly $300, 000  for the site and the trademark. Scoopon balked, and Groupon sued. With no other choice and not waiting to lose the Australian market altogether, Mason decied to launch in Australia under a different name entirely, Stardeals  -while Groupon.com.au remained tiedup inactive under unrelated ownership. Similar scenarios began playing out all over the map.

Groupon then began working to secure the Chinese version of Groupon.com which continued working and operating under the name of Gaopeng. A retired government worker in Bangalore bought the Indian Groupon Web domain and began running the business that looked just so identical to the U.S. Groupon. In Ireland, Groupon successfully brought charges before the World Intellectual Property Organisation to force a subsidiary of the Irish Times Group to give up the Irish version of the Groupon domain name.

Domain squatting is a common pitfall of the Internet world, but it can be especially problematic with a digital business that is easily replicable. ''Groupon isn't a brick and mortar business. It's clicks rather than bricks,'' said James O'Rourke, a professor of Management at the University of Notre Dame. ''As a result they are heavily dependent on owning the domain name and having local familiarity with their brand. If its not capital-intensive, if the barriers to the entry are low, and if you don't have proprietary technology, then everybody can get in the business. It's not like you are building airplanes.''

In November of 2010, Google made a $6 billion acquisition offer for Groupon. At the time, the amount that Google offered struck many as outrageous. A company less than three years old   -with competitors coming at it from every direction   -being offered billions?!! It seemed like a no-brainer that Mason would jump at the chance to sell out at that sum. But he didn't. When asked about the Google decision, Mason grinned :

''We're really happy that we are an independent company. If you look at what has happened to us in the last three to six months,  hopefully to some degree it explains our enthusiasm.''

Some years ago, Mason stood before a whiteboard, marker in hand, at his offices in Palo Alto. He started drawing a wide upward curve. ''This is the S-curve for Groupon  1.0 as it exists today,'' he said.
He stopped for a moment and then began drawing another line, this one sloping upward to the edge of the board in a steady progression.''This one goes on like this. Forever,........strangely.''
This is Mason's baby. It's called Groupon Now.
!WOW! : !WOW!  : !WOW!

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Spain. See ya all on the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless : '' A Great Honour Beckons ''

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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