November 04, 2011, 11:15 AM — Someone's going to have a big hangover this weekend, and it will be the investors who bought shares of Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN) at more than 150% of their IPO offer price.
The daily-deals site finally went public Friday morning after pricing at $20 a share late Thursday, a bump up from the initial target price range of $16 to $20.
Soon after shares began trading, opening at $28, Groupon's stock jumped to 31.14 shortly before 11 a.m. before dropping to 27.00. At the $20 offer price, Groupon is worth $12.6 billion. Only 35 million shares were being offered to the public Friday, a "float" of 5.5%.
Once highly anticipated, Groupon's IPO has been met with increasing skepticism from financial analysts since the Chicago-based company -- which had rejected a $6 billion offer from Google late last year -- filed in early June to go public.
Analysts questioned the company's accounting methods and marketing costs. Soon after the Securities and Exchange Commission also weighed in with criticisms of how Groupon counted revenue, forcing the company to file amended S-1s clarifying its revenue picture.
The company also faced turbulence at the top levels, going through two chief operating officers this year alone. In addition, comments from CEO Andrew Mason and co-founder Eric Lefkofsky arguably violated the SEC's "quiet period" rules, prompting some concerns about maturity and discipline.
The negative reaction from Wall Street, along with general uncertainty about the stock market and economy, caused Groupon to cancel a September road show.
But the company finally decided in October to go ahead with the public offering, launching a two-week road show culminating in Thursday's share pricing and Friday's ticker debut.