Chicago-based "deal of the day" website Groupon -- arguably the hottest private company on the Internet -- has rejected a $6 billion buyout offer from online search giant Google, according to reports. "It's as over as these things get," All Things Digital's Kara Swisher quotes a person "close to the situation." (Also see: Google shares down on rumors of Groupon buyout offer)
Which isn't quite the same as "this is never, ever going to happen, so let's all move on." We don't know the role or motivations of the person Swisher quotes. There could be some gamesmanship here. That being said, it sure seems like a door just got slammed shut. While Google's offer was nearly twice what it has ever paid for an acquisition (it shelled out $3.1 billion in 2007 for online advertising company DoubleClick), there are many in the industry who seem to feel that Groupon is worth much more than that. Including, it's fair to surmise, Groupon. One reason why, as Swisher reported in an earlier post Friday, is that Groupon's revenue for this year may be four times the previously estimated $500 million. Granted, Groupon has to split that estimated $2 billion with the thousands of local merchants in more than 250 markets worldwide who use Groupon to attract customers by offering steep discounts for goods and services. Still, remember that Groupon is a two-year-old company. Hitting those numbers so fast (assuming they're accurate) is nothing short of extraordinary. With that kind of growth and upside potential, why would Groupon need Google? Clearly Groupon CEO Andrew Mason and the company's investors (which include venture firms New Enterprise Associates and Accel Partners) are confident they can go it alone, and may be eyeing an initial public offering down the road. Indeed, according to Chicago Business Today, which first reported that the acquisition talks had broken down, a decision about an IPO will be made next year. Good for Groupon, I say. Google doesn't need to own everything. Besides, the search giant can console itself with its shiny new toy in Manhattan.
Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.