Groupon Proves the Maxim “Mo’ Money Mo’ Problems”

Andrew Mason 2

Slowly, Groupon has gone from being a media darling to a little puppy that everyone kicks around to a family member with a strange rash that everyone likes to weigh in on with Heloise treatment ideas. Groupon’s stock -- at $4.32, as of press time -- continues to inch its way to $3, and the Sun-Times is reporting that Edward Woo of Ascendiant Capital pegged Groupon’s stock at $3.50 a share, down from his previous $5 target, and maintained his “sell” rating in a report issued Monday.”

So, the company has a lot of problems. That’s true. Nobody can deny that. What we’re not hearing a lot of are solutions, and the notion that Groupon is toiling in silence to turn things around is getting harder and harder to cling to -- if it was going to make a move to save things, wouldn’t it have done so already?

Pando Daily nails it -- and explores why Facebook and Yahoo! Are also struggling:

We hear from each of these companies that they are improving their technology, or changing their leadership, or restructuring their organizations to unlock the huge potential of their user base. But the real problem is that Demand Generation is not a viable format for building a profitable business on the Internet, and is in secular but permanent decline.

The problem isn’t the technology. It’s the way the technology is being utilized. And as far as how Groupon can turn things around, I’m not really sure. I have some vague bar-bet ideas but I’d rather not air those here because, well, everyone has an opinion about what Groupon could do or should do. It’s not my place, but I do think a changing of key personnel, or transitioning into different, even figurehead-esque roles, might help things -- or at the very least send the message that the company is serious about making changes. Kiosks where you can make impulse-buy decisions and making the Groupon app faster, or whatever, are fine ideas. But that’s frosting. What Groupon needs is to bake a new cake with a rethought recipe.

It’ll be interesting to see how the holiday season treats Groupon. Last year, the company got “epic” with deals on unusual experiences like a round-the-world trip and a cooking class and group dinner with Chef Todd English. But that was last year, when Groupon’s stock was at $23.85. That’s nearly 5.5 times higher than it is right now.

So, yeah. Now’s the time, Groupon.

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.

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