Groupon never set out to take over the traditional couponing space. Nor is it discernibly taking any business yet from the leaders in national newspaper-distributed coupon books -- Valassis Communications or News Corp.'s SmartSource.
But there's something about spurning a $6 billion takeout offer from Google and spawning rumors of an initial public offering priced at $25 billion that gets people's attention. One of those people is Rupert Murdoch. The News Corp. chairman-CEO has asked executives at his SmartSource unit what Groupon means to the company, said Henri Lellouche, senior VP of the unit.
The short answer, at least for Mr. Lellouche, is "not much." But the longer answer is that Groupon has so taken the promotion world by storm that it can't be ignored. "I think about Groupon all the time," Mr. Lellouche said, before adding that he's not actually getting any requests from clients to do Groupon-type deals, including from Unilever, whose executives he'd just met with last week.
Yet who can blame Mr. Murdoch for asking? In two years, Groupon has generated enough business, combined perhaps with enough hype, to walk away from a buyout offer four times the size of the $1.4 billion market cap it took Valassis 41 years to amass. At $25 billion, Groupon would be valued at 16 times Valassis and more than half what News Corp. as a whole commands.