Can Groupon Turn Itself Around?

Groupon is a bit of a mess being re-arranged right now.

Among the folks who recently left it behind are national sales head Lee Brown and Jayna Cooke, the salesperson who won the company’s first national deals with Gap and Nordstrom. They are symbolic losses, and they aren't the only ones. The Sun-Times reports “mid- and lower-level sales people have left or are looking to bolt, according to recruiters, analysts and former employees. Even some previously entrenched IT staff are sending out feelers for jobs.”

And analysts and social-media experts told the Sun-Times this sort of mass exodus “saps morale, lowers productivity, creates internal upheaval and leaves a company bereft of key skills and experience.”

In other words, Groupon is in a bad way.

But that doesn’t keep Groupon from carrying on as if it were business as usual. On Monday, the company acquired Savored, a “digital provider of restaurant reservations and reviews” reportedly for somewhere between $15 and $20 million. CNN is interpreting it as an overture to challenge OpenTable.

The question is, though: Is anyone really threatened by Groupon at the moment? Its stock is at $4.82, which is hardly a muscular figure. It hasn’t been above $5 since Aug. 15.

But Andrew Mason and Castle Groupon are undeterred. Mason recently told CNBC that hopping into the mobile payments game will “help us sell more Groupons.”

The question here is: Will selling more Groupons actually buoy the company?

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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