Let's put all the Google buyout rumors aside for just a moment and focus on actual Groupon news. Then we'll dig into why Groupon will not be selling to Google.
Groupon is launching two new initiatives and they are nothing short of game-changing for merchants and consumers.
Groupon Stores lets merchants set up virtual storefronts where they can set up deals, activate them at their discretion, send them to Groupon subscribers and get customers to follow their Groupon Stores to receive future news and deals. Groupon, using their personalization technology, will also match up the best deals to the right people and send notices every day. Setting up Groupon Stores is free for merchants.
The Deal Feed is a daily, updated stream of deals personalized to each consumer. Users will see the deal of the day, deals posted by merchants they follow and even deals from those they don't follow - recommended by Groupon "based on what we know about you."
Just over the horizon, Groupon will allow users to connect their Deal Feeds to Facebook - so, friends will see other friends' deals, share them, and so on.
With these new capabilities, Groupon has effectively launched a social shopping network - something many others have tried but failed to do. And Groupon will not fail. They already have the blessing of the world's largest social network in Facebook, and a sizable, dedicated audience of their own. Groupon also has the attention of massive, international retailers such as The Gap and an international audience both through Facebook and of their own doing including, but not limited to buying up overseas Groupon clones.
Now we can go back to the buyout rumors - they are rumors - and quash them. If this rumor of a near $6 billion buyout offer from Google seems desperate, that's because it is. The thing is, Google needs Groupon much more than Groupon needs Google. Facebook will provide a serious boost but, in the end, I'm not sure Groupon needs them either. The tools, the audience - it's all there. Groupon stands to make plenty of money on their own, over the long term. The social atmosphere of today's Web is not going to disappear anytime soon, and consumers will never, ever tire of saving money.
Groupon is just getting started. And Google is on the outside looking in.