Inside these posts: Groupon

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Groupon scoops up Whrrl creator Pelago

Employees work inside Groupon's headquarters at 600 W Chicago Ave., Feb. 15, 2011. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Chicago-based daily deal giant Groupon has acquired Pelago, the Seattle-based maker of Whrrl, a location-based mobile game for people to share recommendations on fun activities.

Financial terms of the deal, which was announced on Groupon and Pelago’s respective blogs on Monday, were not disclosed. Pelago Chief Executive Jeff Holden will oversee product development at Groupon, and many of the company’s employees will assume “integral roles in future Grouponnovations,” Groupon CEO Andrew Mason wrote in his blog post. Get the full story »

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 »

Poggled drinks in $5.6M from Groupon investors

From TechCrunch | Poggled, a Chicago-based daily deals site that focuses on discounts for bars and clubs, has raised $5.6 million from investors including Groupon’s Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell and New Enterprise Associates principal Tom Grossi, according to an SEC form filed today.

Lightbank invests in San Francisco startup Qwiki

Lightbank, the Chicago investment firm run by Groupon backers Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, has invested $1 million in Qwiki, a San Francisco, Calif.-based startup. Get the full story »

Groupon president and COO leaving

Groupon Inc.’s president and chief operating officer, Rob Solomon, is stepping down as the Internet company remakes itself from a small start-up to a major online player.

The move comes as Groupon, which offers group discount deals, has experienced explosive growth. Solomon, a Silicon Valley veteran who joined the company a year ago, said in an interview he is stepping down partly because “Groupon got really big.” When he joined the company a year ago, the company had 200 employees, but today it has some 6,000, he said. Get the full story »

Facebook plans own daily deal service

Facebook will soon start testing a service to provide discounts and other special offers to its more than 500 million members, a move that will thrust the social network into direct competition with daily deals market leader Groupon. Get the full story »

Eric Lefkofsky lands on Forbes’ billionaires list

Forbes has released its list of 2011 billionaires, and there’s one new name on the list from Illinois — Chicago investor Eric Lefkofsky, the cofounder and 30 percent owner of Chicago-based Groupon.

Other billionaires from Illinois include Sam Zell, Penny Pritzker and Patrick Ryan. Get the full story »

Groupon’s first post-Super Bowl ad more minimal

Blink and you’ll miss it — Groupon Inc. is wrapping up a short television ad campaign this week that features a stripped-down spot touting the Chicago-based company’s variety of daily deals.

The short ad shows pages of a calendar being ripped off as the voiceover describes the kinds of deals Groupon offers, such as restaurants, spa, lessons and museums. Keeping with the company’s cheeky sense of humor, the days of the week on the calendar are nonsense words such as “Grund” and “Slomberday.” 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 headquarters to sell for $390M

From Crain’s Chicago Business | The former Montgomery Ward & Co. catalog building on the edge of River North is set to be sold for $390 million, sources say, four years after a group of New York investors paid $290 million for it, at the peak of the real estate cycle. Get the full story>>

Groupon co-founder to head state innovation panel

Gov. Pat Quinn is expected to announce during his budget address Wednesday the creation of an innovation council to be headed by Groupon co-founder Brad Keywell.

Part of the council’s job will be to determine what kind of projects the state needs to support to be able to compete in the global market place, such as developing new technologies in agriculture, finance or in a combination of industries. Get the full story »

Chicago startup GiveForward raises $500K

GiveForward, a Chicago-based startup that helps people raise money for out-of-pocket medical expenses, has raised $500,000 in its first round of funding.

Desiree Vargas Wrigley and Ethan Austin started GiveForward in 2008 and had looked for some funding at that time, but “what we kept hearing from investors is: ‘You should be a non-profit,’” Vargas Wrigley said. She and Austin funded the company themselves, with Vargas Wrigley waiting tables at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba in Lincoln Park in the meantime.

The GiveForward platform allows people to create personalized fundraising pages and share their cause through social media such as Facebook and Twitter. GiveForward collects the donations, which can be done through credit or debit cards, and passes them along to the beneficiary after deducting 7 percent for processing fees. The company said its users have raised $3.5 million since the company’s inception and about 10,000 users have joined the site, with almost half of them signing up in the last six months. Get the full story »

JPMorgan plans to start media fund

JPMorgan is planning on starting a fund of between $500 million and $750 million to invest in internet and digital media companies, the Wall Street Journal said on Sunday.

The paper said that marketing materials were sent to prospective investors about two weeks ago.

The reported move comes as interest in social networking sites is increasing. Investor interest and valuations are surging for privately-held Web companies like Facebook, Zynga and Groupon. 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 »