Groupon Giving Check-Ins a Whrrl?


grouponADOTAS – As it lines up for an IPO rumored to excede $25 billion, the skeptics are wondering just how Groupon expects to keep up its ludicrous growth, especially as the daily deal playing field gets more crowded and chief rival LivingSocial continues to bloom. Well, the space leader just gave us a glimpse into a very lucrative future with its acquisition of Pelago, creators of location-based social network Whrrl.

With the tagline “Check In to Win,” Whrrl plays up the gaming aspect of location-based services and encourages the young people to get out there and do stuff. Especially stuff sponsored by advertising retailers — the network added the ability to win discounts and deals from retail partners back in October 2010.

Whrrl distinguished itself in the crowded location-based space through its recommendation system, in which an algorithmic layer on top of the check-in data analyzes user check-ins, recommendations and general Whrrl society activity to give users recommendations about places and activities on the Whrrl homepage. The more someone uses the service, the more personalized the recommendations get.

This feature had some serious cred as Pelago founder and CEO Jeff Holden was in charge of Amazon’s consumer facing websites and personalization technology for 10 years. Holden will now be in charge of Groupon product development (which CEO Andrew Mason groaningly refers to as “Grouponnovations”).

The question on everyone’s mind must be — will that product development include a check-in functionality that allows advertisers to offer real-time deals?

“Whrrl’s mission has always been to increase the possibility of adventure in our daily real-world lives, and to that end, we invented an idea economy (with Whrrlbot as its inexhaustible champion!),” Holden wrote on the Pelago blog. “It turns out that Groupon has a very similar mission, except they approached it by creating a new kind of deal economy.”

To the dismay of its 500,000 users, Whrrl will be shutting down at the end of April, but look for the network’s technology to soon reappear in Groupon apps and services everywhere.


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