Groupon’s New Moves Look Awful Familiar


It’s been a while since we last checking in on Groupon, and what’s new?
Not a whole heck of a lot. Or rather. There are developments, but they are nothing groundbreaking. The biggest buzz about Castle Groupon is that this week Andrew Mason’s company launched a point-of-sale service for restaurants across the country, according to Reuters.

That’s right. Groupon’s big move is to me-too in on the turf of Belly, which is stranger still because Lightbank, the venture firm founded by Groupon co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, also banks Belly. Huh? Remember that in late September -- again, it’s been a while -- Groupon launched Groupon Payments, which allows its business partners to take credit cards at lower rates than those offered by other providers. It’s intended to strengthen the bonds between local merchants and Groupon, which are ties that have become increasingly strained, to put it politely, over the course of the last year or so. Regardless of where the blame actually fell with all the companies that fingered Groupon for shutting them down after a deal went terribly awry, it’s still bad for business to get that sort of attention. Bad for the merchants and bad for Groupon.

The thing is, though, that just because it’s intended to strengthen those relationships depends entirely upon the depth of those relationships in the first place. There have been a lot of hurt feelings and things said that can’t be taken back both by the restaurants and also by Mason, and I wonder if this is a rushed, stopgap solution. Maybe they should go to couples counseling of sorts -- whatever the business equivalent of that would be -- before leaning so heavily on merchants to help buoy Groupon again.

And although it’s been a couple of weeks since we last touched base with Groupon, its stock has stayed about the same. As of press time, it’s at $5.24. It went all the way down to $4.63 in the last month. People are starting to say it will never bounce back. But for the time being, it seems that Groupon is retaliating against companies that have carved out a different niche while it had been the daily deal king. It’s an interesting strategy, although Groupon’s strategy seems to change every couple of weeks -- evidenced by this check-in.

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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