OK, I’ll say it…
I think Groupon was NUTS to turn down $5-6 billion from Google.
I mean, c’mon now, we’re talking about a COUPON WEBSITE here!
As for what Google wanted with Groupon?
1. Something more than AdWords to offer SMBs and increase share-of-wallet. After all, there are only SO many people Googling “Dry Cleaners 60622.”
2. A big honking opt-in mailing list to have deeper commerce touchpoints with consumers than fleeting search queries. (Botiques.com is another example of this.)
I have to believe Google could build these things itself.
1. Hire a bunch of freelance salespeople (or buy a Yellow Pages company) and get in front of SMBs with offers to run Groupon-esque deals.
2. Launch Google Deals and send an email to every Gmail user with the opportunity to opt-in.
If it only took Groupon a couple years to scale sales and stimulate demand, I bet Google could do it in one.
There you have it.
Eric, Sergey and Larry – if you’re reading this, that’ll be $5.4 billion, please.
Update: To be clear, I’m not saying Groupon isn’t worth $5-6 billion. I’m just saying Google shouldn’t pay that much for it because it can build something of similar scale itself. Perhaps I should’ve changed my second line to, “I think Google was NUTS to offer $5-6 million for Groupon.” Lest you think I’m not a big Groupon fan and believer, please see my follow-up post, “Why Groupon Matters.”