I am no stranger to Groupon, Tenka, and the occasional archaic act of clipping newspaper coupons. As a broke college student living in New York City, I survived on free falafel deals from Tenka and the occasional buy one, get one deal. I carefully studied my daily e-mails from Groupon, hoping to snag a fantastic deal amidst the soaring NYC living costs. I knew many peers of mine received Groupon e-mails. I saw other city dwellers using the deals frequently. I’d seen the snazzy digital marketing and witty television commercials.
I did not know, however, that all the while I was a member of a billion-dollar technology juggernaut, a social coupon king.
Groupon filed paperwork today to go public, looking to raise an estimated $750 million from investors. This, amidst news that social networking site Linkedin is valued at $9 billion dollars, and it seems that we are heading toward a full-blown 90’s tech bubble.
Could viral coupons really bring in $644.7 million dollars of revenue in the first quarter of 2011 alone? With 83 million members, myself included, it seems likely.
Yet I must admit a secret. I have never used a deal from Groupon.
The deals were too expensive, too bizarre, or just uninteresting. Sites like Tenka, which offer free deals, always won me over. And now that I’m back home in Miami working at an advertising agency, my demand for the service has gone down, as I assume it will for other subscribers over time.
What the Groupon fad fails to deliver is a real social media impact. Facebook Deals offers the same content as Groupon, but with all the additional social benefits. On the other hand, successful competition such as Facebook Deals, Google Offers, or Living Social couldn’t even take down the Groupon goliath.
Do I think it’s worth $25 billion, $6 billion, or even $1 billion? No. But the proof seems to be in the numbers: the viral extreme couponing sensation Groupon is taking no discounts for its public debut. I guess I’ll have to jump on this bargain bandwagon after all.