If Groupon Is ‘N-Sync, Google Is No. 1 Fan

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grouponADOTAS – You know why Groupon said “Bye Bye Bye” to Google’s $6 billion acquisition offer? ‘Cause they’re like the ‘N Sync (a highly successful all-boy pop act in the late 90s, early 00s) of all websites, and the idea of Google taking over was tearing up its heart.

In addition to boasting about stats like 40 million subscribers (while Groupon averaged 100,000 signups per week at the beginning of 2010, 3 million joined just last week) last night on Charlie Rose, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason commented, “When people call us the fastest growing company ever, I think of us as like the ‘N Sync of websites, like we have had good tunes, but we’re not The Beatles.”

A surprisingly humble statement from the head of a company that just turned down being Google’s largest purchase ever. It’s also a little strange because Mason seems to understand that Groupon’s shelf life is limited — while I can sing just about any Beatles song, I had to consult the Internet to remember ‘N Sync titles from less than a decade ago. (Granted, I wasn’t a teenage girl when Justin, JC and those other guys appeared — I was a college kid blasting At the Drive-In and And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.)

So if you know your operation is merely a fad, why wouldn’t you leap on a ludicrous offer from an Internet giant who should know better?

Well, a source with an in to the Groupon board told Business Insider that regulatory holdups and the kill fee were at the heart of the discounter’s rejection.

As you may have noticed, Google’s been having leap all kinds of regulatory hurdles to get its major mergers done — the AdMob acquisition looked particularly painful. The Internet giant is currently in the middle of two anti-trust investigations.

So, if the merger went south, Groupon wanted breakup protection similar to what DoubleClick (Google’s largest acquisition) had. Business Insider notes that the $750 million AdMob deal had a $700 million kill fee. Though a specific number wasn’t cited, apparently Google scoffed at Groupon’s figure, so the board walked.

Which couldn’t have been easy — board members could made more than $100 million each, while cofounders Brady Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky would have receive $600 million and $1.8 billion, respectively.

While Mason dodged all questions about the failed Google acquisition on Rose’s show and again this morning on the Today Show, at Le Web in Paris, Google’s Marissa Mayer kept hope alive for an acquisition. She suggested that such a large deal simply required more time to strategize.

Looks like Google still goes to sleep clutching its autographed promotional glossy of Groupon. Will it regret this obsession when it gets older?

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