With the rise of the daily deal space and the historic Groupon IPO last Friday, some fundamental questions about online deals are coming to the surface—namely, are daily deals really all they’re cracked up to be? Some are turning their attention instead to a more traditional space: coupons. Today, digital coupon marketplace WhaleShark Media joins a growing number of online coupon sites that are raising big numbers from VCs. The company announced Thursday that it has raised a whopping $150 million from J.P. Morgan Asset Management and Institutional Venture Partners (IVP).
The new capital brings WhaleShark’s total raised to nearly $300 million, and IVP’s Jules Maltz will be joining WhaleShark’s board of directors.
With seven digital coupon properties in its portfolio—including the most recently added VoucherCodes—WhaleShark expects to facilitate sales in the range of $1.7 billion in 2011. Additionally, the company tells me that it expects to do north of $70 million in revenues this year, with more than 50% organic growth in 2011 compared to 2010.
This also includes growth from the many acquisitions made in the last year, including UK coupon sites VoucherCodes and eConversions in August, as well as U.S. digital coupon site RetailMeNot in December 2010. WhaleShark says it intends to use the new funds from this round to fuel even more acquisitions over the course of the next year.
All told, WhaleShark’s portfolio of sites draws upwards of 300 million customer visits a year who crave deals and discounts from the 130,000 merchants and retailers featured on the sites.
WhaleShark is among a number of digital coupon sites to raise impressive rounds this year. Coupons.com has raised a total of $230 million across two rounds in the last six months, while CouponCabin raised $54 million last month. Also in October, Coupon reseller CouponTrade (an online swap for coupons, gift cards, and regretful daily deal purchases) raised an undisclosed round of funding.
The digital coupon craze seems to point to a move away from the daily deal space, which has proven to be riddled with problems—not least of which is the average daily deal subscriber, who is too often nothing more than a one-time thrill-seeker looking for the best bargain. By contrast, the average coupon-clipper of yesteryear is a methodical consumer who is loyal to specific brands and merchants and wants those specific deals—not just any old over-hyped discount. So, there are sure to be many more digital coupon funding announcements in the coming months.
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