While many media outlets and blogs continue to think they're clever for slinging out the headline "Groupon's Stock Now Half-Off" or something similar, the very understated "Analysts Worry Groupon's in Trouble," by comparison, is quite funny. The article, from News Net 5, asks whether "you've gotten the feeling there have been fewer great Groupon deals lately?"
That's a very good point. The last Groupon deal that was truly memorable was back in June, when the company offered to have one of its employees come tuck you into bed. That's light years away from the 2010 deal that arguably put the company on the map: $50 worth of Gap apparel and accessories for $25.
If the company is smart, it will have noticed how LivingSocial offered a $10 Starbucks gift card for $5. It, supposedly, was the best-selling daily deal ever, with 1.5 million takers in all. Groupon's deal Thursday in Chicago? Nineteen bucks for two appetizers and two craft beer flights at Gino's East Sports Bar.
Obviously Groupon can't be running big-name deals each and every day, but I'm just mentioning the two for contrast. It isn't like LivingSocial does gangbusters with all of its deals.
What is clear, though, is that Groupon needs to do something to turn its floundering stock around. At press time, it's at $4.22, and the timbre of the conversation regarding the company has long since shifted from not if, but when, the guillotine will come all the way down.
The problems for Groupon aren't restricted to our backyard. According to German blogs Gruenderszene and VentureVillage, "the co-founders of CityDeal, the European site purchased by Groupon in 2010, have exited the company."
But if Groupon was a waterbed, it has begun to spring so many leaks that you'd be better off using it as a sponge instead of something to sleep on. Friday last week, Groupon Co-Founder and Chairman Eric Lefkofsky reportedly distributed 18.7 million shares of the company to an LLC managed by him and his wife. Some places have reported this as Lefkosky sold those shares, but he didn't. That doesn't mean he won't down the road, but it doesn't exactly instill public confidence in Groupon, now, does it?
In other words, maybe it isn't just analysts who are worrying Groupon is in trouble.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.