Groupon is a movie waiting to happen

Business Insider publishes the 'inside story' about daily-deals site, and it's an entertaining one

As many of you already know, controversial daily-deals site Groupon plans to go public this week after concluding its current road show.

What most of you probably don't know is how Groupon got to where it is today -- the inside story, as it were. And if the very long and entertaining article by Nicholas Carlson of Business Insider is any indication, Groupon may have a brighter future as a Hollywood blockbuster than as a successful company.

(Also see: Groupon IPO road show could be a horror show)

As Gawker describes it, Groupon's story "has played out like an opera, with subplots involving orgiastic young sales reps, brutal German managers, a puppet-master chairman, and amazing levels of greed."

Pass the popcorn!

I've included a couple of snippets from Carlson's piece below, but it's worth a full read.

In the first, Groupon receives an acquisition offer even before Google's $6 billion bid last December:

Sometime in the early to middle part of 2010, Yahoo corporate development boss Andrew Siegel reached out and offered to buy Groupon for a price between $3 billion and $4 billion. What attracted Yahoo most to Groupon was the promise of personalized offers.

What attracted Groupon to Yahoo was just about nothing.

According to several sources, Andrew Mason simply did not want to join Yahoo or work for its CEO, Carol Bartz, and that's what he told Groupon's board.

Who could blame him? Imagine being in the middle of a building a potentially lucrative Internet business, and then turning everything over to a hopelessly lost organization?

Here's what an anonymous Groupon employee said about CEO Andrew Mason:

"He just likes to be the wacky, quirky, irreverent, 'I don't care about money, I don't care about business.' It's bullshit. It's just a shtick. He started as a socialist, and now he's as capitalist as you get. He wants to build a really big special company and he wants to fly private jets," says another source who worked closely with Groupon and Mason.

There's plenty of detail regarding Groupon's absolute mess of a quiet period, in which it came under severe scrutiny by analysts and the Securities and Exchange Commission for questionable accounting, forcing the company to amend its S-1 initial public offering filing several times.

Sadly, the "orgiastic young sales reps" alluded to by Gawker appear to be no more than "sales reps dating each other," according to a Business Insider source.

Well, someone can always punch up the script.

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