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What's Ahead for Groupon?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "Is there anything negative about Groupon that hasn't already been said?," asks John Gilliam from seekingalpha.com. The piece is filled with plenty of great insights into the company, and is largely a defense of his decision to buy Groupon stock.

    Eventually, he says, "Traders will recognize that the sentiment has gotten so ridiculously negative and there are so many selling short that any small shift in sentiment will allow for a double digit return almost overnight."

    Maybe so, but that's still hardly a vote of confidence in Groupon, nor does it really benefit them in the long run necessarily.

    Groupon is clearly aware of the bee-swarm of negativity clouding around it in the recent months: Remember Andrew Mason's internal memo that got leaked?

    And yet, we continue to see Groupon snatch up more companies -- as recently as Tuesday, social-recommendation app Ditto.me became the latest.

    As some corners of the media are shifting from naysaying to may-saying, there's become a couple of steady-shouldered bloggers peering ahead for Groupon's future under the assumption it will have one and not just merely whimper away as some seem to salivate for. Andrew John Stein, a platforms technologist, recently issued a rather massive prediction on where Groupon might be headed, and how that direction might actually mean stability and profitability. In a post titled "Groupon: How a Real-time, Customer & Merchant Data Platform Could Radically Re-invent Commerce," Stein lays out a high-impact strategy that could be just what Groupon has been planning all along with all these acquisitions.

    Among Groupon's current strengths, Stein says, is a massive flow of real-time data "analogous to the Mississippi river flowing past St. Louis in a constant flow that can't be stopped." Stein explains the fact that this data is real time makes it much more valuable than traditional analytics which usually come a day later or are somehow staggered and delayed otherwise.

    Here's more from Stein:

    Now, not only can merchants provide daily deals for their customers, they can also generate connections, strengthen loyalty and create community among a consumer base via this core value of the data asset that Groupon daily deals has generated. Merchants will be able to run their own business more efficiently, and they will have the potential ability to use a Groupon commerce operating system (platform) for point-of-sale tools, to create custom loyalty programs, to engage with digital currency, to interact on the store floor with mobile-based solutions for sharing product information and advertising, consumer research and so on.

    Groupon's stock is at $12.12 and the company is in trouble with Wall Street. Clearly it knows it has to do something drastic to turn things around -- so maybe there's something to Stein's theory?  

    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 columnist for EGM. 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.