By Douglas McIntyre
Google (GOOG) is offering around $6 billion for e-commerce coupon site Groupon, according to several media sources. It is likely that the initial payment will be $5.3 billion and $700 million will be used as an incentive to keep current employees, writes AllThingsD.The transaction would be a windfall for the Groupon’s investors, including Silicon Valley’s Accel Partners, as well as Russia’s DST Global, Battery Ventures and New Enterprise Associates. Groupon is only two years old.
The social shopping network only has about $600 million in revenue, so the price seems high. But industry experts believe that figure will grow rapidly. Groupon gets its revenue by offering steep discounts to its members from retailers. The retailers in return get large amounts of traffic for their inventory.
The deal goes a long way to showing the difference between old online media and the new wave of social network-based sites. Most analysts believe that Yahoo!’s (YHOO) stake in China e-commerce business Alibaba is worth over $10 billion. That makes the market value of the portal only about $12 billion. And Yahoo! has about $6 billion in revenue.
Why would Google spend so much on Groupon? The search company continues to buy what it cannot build on its own. It has purchased firms like DoubleClick and On2 as a means of adding online infrastructure and advanced software. It is in the process of purchasing ITA Software, a platform for travel e-commerce, for $700 million. This transaction, however, could still be blocked by the Department of Justice because it may put too much of the online travel booking industry in Google’s hands.