Can Groupon's Wins Outweigh Its Losses?

I received an email this morning from Groupon notifying me that the daily deals company has "garnered top honors at the 2013 Innovator Awards for the category of Best POS Transformation." Specifically, Groupon Payments, a way for merchants to take credit cards, has swept the award dealy.

This is not sexy news. But for Groupon, it's a win. And Groupon needs as many of those as it can possibly muster.

This is probably not really the sort of thing that will catapult Groupon anywhere. Compared to Groupon's recent runaway Starbucks deal -- which broke Groupon's site, a sure sign of its success -- an award from some website most people haven't heard of isn't exactly enthralling.

But it's a nice brag to have during the week's news cycle. It also is probably where Groupon would rather we refocus our attention instead of, say, its stand-still stock, which has been at the mid-$5 range, and the company having "a largely unproven business model, a wide-ranging global business mix in transformation and ... a management change" in the words of UBS Analyst Eric Sheridan.

Look. My intent is not to kick Groupon when it's down or root for its demise. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just believe it's getting harder and harder to remain optimistic about Groupon's chances for success. And the ironic thing is that Andrew Mason famously hated the word "innovative." (An aversion I share.) In a short talk at the Chicago Innovation Awards in October last year, Mason teased the show and its insistence to categorize innovation as a resource people can accumulate.

But today, Groupon is celebrating such nods.

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 and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. 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. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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