Inside these posts: Daily deal Web sites

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Goldman, Morgan Stanley may lead Groupon IPO

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason speaking in August 2010 at Groupon's headquarters, 600 W. Chicago Ave. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Groupon is likely to pick Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to lead a second-half initial public offering that could value the fast-growing daily deals site at $15 billion to $20 billion, a source familiar with the matter said on Thursday.

Groupon could raise as much as $1 billion in the IPO, which could come in the second half of 2011, although the exact size had not yet been determined, said the source, who was not authorized to speak to the media. Get the full story »

Nipping at Groupon, LivingSocial raises $400M

Online coupon site LivingSocial said it raised $400 million in a round of funding, bringing the total to more than $600 million as investors flock to companies that provide socially driven discounts. Get the full story »

Groupon, LivingSocial aim for upscale market

A screenshot of Groupon's "American Idol" ad. (CNET)

Chicago-based daily deal site Groupon is going after buyers willing to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars on travel and luxury goods, Bloomberg News reports. Groupon’s rival, Washington, D.C.-based LivingSocial, has already moved into the upscale offer arena — last month, it offered a $10,000 coupon for a penthouse-suite package at the Fairmont hotel in San Francisco.

By moving into pricier deals, the sites are trying to reach a broader demographic, Bloomberg writes. Groupon alone has more than 60 million subscribers in 42 countries, with ages ranging from 25 to 50, and many living in the suburbs. Get the full story »

Groupon, FTD offer flower refunds after complaints

Roses for sale on FTD's Web site. (Screenshot)

Chicago-based online coupon site and Downers Grove-based flower company FTD Group Inc. are offering refunds after getting complaints that a Valentine’s Day flower deal wasn’t so sweet.

Both companies said they didn’t do anything wrong, but they responded to Internet complaints that FTD inflated prices for some Groupon customers who used a coupon for $20 off an FTD flower purchase of $40 or more.

The problem surfaced when several Groupon customers found the flowers they bought were priced lower as sale items on FTD’s own website. They complained on the Groupon site and the Internet that FTD was making up for the Groupon discount by jacking up the prices. Get the full story »

No love: Groupon users revolt against FTD deal

A day after Groupon offered $20 off of $40 worth of flowers and gifts from FTD, users are calling the deal a scam.

The coupon, which nearly 3,300 people bought, directed buyers to a special FTD website — — to take advantage of the offer. The problem, users said, was that prices were higher than on the regular website, effectively diminishing the value of the deal. Get the full story »

Starbucks CEO invests in Groupon, gets board seat

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Chicago-based daily deal site Groupon said on Thursday Starbucks Corp Chief Executive Howard Schultz has joined its board of directors and that his venture capital firm has taken a stake in the daily deals website.

Schultz’ firm, Maveron, previously invested in retailers such as zulily, which offers daily deals on clothing geared to mothers and their children, and the lucy activewear chain, which was sold to VF Corp in 2007.

Groupon reportedly got a $6 billion takeover bid from Google in November, which it turned down. Two-year-old Groupon recently completed a $950 million round of financing. Get the full story »

Groupon investor bets on another Chicago firm

A venture-capital investor in Chicago-based Groupon is placing a bet on another local company.

Chicago-based Abe’s Market , an online marketplace for a wide range of natural products, has closed a $3.4 million round of financing led by Accel Partners, which in late 2009 invested in Groupon. Accel, which has more than $6 billion under management, is joined by existing investor Index Ventures as well as other angel investors.

Abe’s Market works with almost 300 vendors and said it has seen its orders grow by 900 percent over the past six months. Get the full story »

Groupon to tweak Super Bowl commercials

An image from Groupon's Tibet ad. (Groupon)

Groupon Inc. is reworking its television commercials in response to the negative reception they received when they aired during Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Chief Executive Andrew Mason said in a Monday blog post that the company is tweaking the end of the ads to draw attention to the philanthropic causes they were intended to support.

“Ads are traditionally about shameless self promotion, and we’ve always strived to have a more honest and respectful conversation with our customers,” Mason wrote. “We would never have run these ads if we thought they trivialized the causes — even if we didn’t take them as seriously as we do, what type of company would go out of their way to be so antagonistic?” Get the full story »

Deal site Bling Nation launches in Chicago

A Palo Alto, Calif.-based startup called Bling Nation has launched a new “social rewards” program in Chicago as part of a national rollout, using Facebook as a way for consumers to share deals at local businesses with their friends.

In Chicago, Bling Nation has deals with merchants such as Deleece Restaurant, Noble Tree Café and White Glove Car Wash. The company said any local business can participate in its FanConnect program. The program uses a dedicated Facebook application that keeps users updated on local deals. A person that redeems a deal receives rewards that he or she can use for future purchases, and earning these rewards automatically shares special offers with the person’s friends via his or her Facebook wall. Get the full story »

Facebook expands its Groupon-like service

From The New York Times DealBook | Facebook is introducing its discount shopping service to five European countries and Canada as part of its push to help brands communicate with its users.

Goldman’s Blankfein pitches for Groupon’s IPO

Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Officer Lloyd Blankfein went to Chicago to pitch Groupon executives on hiring his bank to underwrite the online coupon company’s initial public offering, Bloomberg reported on Friday.

The report was attributed to a single unnamed source. Get the full story »

Groupon meets with bankers to explore IPO

Groupon’s executives held a series of meetings with bankers Thursday in Chicago to discuss a potential initial public offering for the coupon website, CNBC’s Kate Kelly reported Thursday evening. Groupon, Kelly said, is serious about an IPO, but the process could take months, possibly into this spring. The offering could be worth $1 billion to $1.5 billion, she said, but the company hasn’t offered any details of the potential size of the deal. Get the full story »

Northwestern grads launch coupon site Bare Deal

A pair of Northwestern University graduates has launched a Chicago-based online deal company that merges snail mail and the Web.

Bare Deal, founded by Justin Shapiro and Glen Andrianov, launched Wednesday in Chicago and the site lists 12 additional cities where the company plans to expand, including Los Angeles and New York.

Chicago is home to tens of Web companies offering local daily deals, including Groupon, the pioneer of the space. Groupon’s co-founder, Andrew Mason, is also a Northwestern alumnus. Shapiro and Andrianov graduated in 2008. Get the full story »

VillageVines grabs $3M in venture capital

New York-based startup VillageVines has raised a first round of funding from Hearst Interactive Media, GrandBanks Capital and High Peaks Venture Partners for its exclusive restaurant site. Get the full story »

Groupon ads in U.K. banned for being misleading

From AdAge | Chicago-based daily deal site Groupon saw three of its online ads banned in the U.K. after the Advertising Standards Authority, an industry-established group there, claimed they were misleading to consumers.