Groupon to go public

Credit: Source: Fred Prouser / Reuters

Online group discount site files IPO plans with SEC

Online "deal of the day" site Groupon has filed for an initial public offering in a bid to cash in on the huge investor demand for shares in social media companies.

Groupon submitted its S-1 registration statement to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday. The Chicago-based company said it intends to raise up to $750 million and will trade on the NASDAQ under the ticker symbol GRPN.

(Also see: LinkedIn shares nearly triple in IPO debut)

Underwriters for the IPO are Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse.

No word yet on the number of shares, the price range, or when this ship sails.

In its filing, Groupon said first-quarter gross profit was $270 million, though that's before it splits revenue with participating merchants. Adjusted operating income was $81.6 million on revenues of $644.7 million.

That nearly equals the $714 million in revenues for all of 2010, so clearly Groupon is growing fast.

Nonetheless, the company continues to lose money -- $102.7 million in Q1 and $389.6 million in all of 2010, with an accumulated deficit of $522 million. In the S-1, Groupon said, "We have incurred net losses since inception and we expect our operating expenses to increase significantly in the foreseeable future."

Founded in November 2008, Groupon currently has more than 7,100 employees and offers more than 1,000 daily deals to 83 million subscribers across 43 countries, CEO Andrew Mason wrote in the S-1 filing.

Groupon hopes to catch the social media investing wave ridden by LinkedIn (NYSE: LNKD), which went public two weeks ago at $45 per share.

However, since topping $122 in its first day of trading (see link above), LinkedIn has lost about one-third of its value, with shares priced Thursday afternoon at 80.53.

Social games company Zynga also is soon expected to announce an IPO.

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