Groupon to IPO at $15 billion this spring?

Faith Merino · January 13, 2011 · Short URL:

Sources say the group buying behemoth is meeting with bankers to discuss options

Update: The New York Times has confirmed with its own sources that Groupon will be meeting with bankers again on Friday. 

Groupon could be pursuing an IPO sooner than expected.  The group deal giant met with Wall Street Underwriters to discuss the possibility of going public in an IPO that could value the company at $15 billion or more, according to sources involved in the meetings.  CNBC broke the news late Thursday.

Groupon allegedly explored its options in “bake-off” meetings held in Chicago—meetings in which bankers present their ideas on how best to sell the stock.  While details are scarce (no word on who the bankers are), the company could go public as early as this spring.

The news comes on the heels of Groupon’s latest announcement that it has raised—like—a billion dollars.  The company announced earlier this week that it has closed a monster $950 million round, which more than 30 investors participated in, making it the largest VC fundraising round in history (DreamWorks previously held the record with $500 million raised in 1995).

The money, Groupon said, will be used to power more acquisitions to expand the company’s global footprint.  This was quickly followed by a second announcement that Groupon has just set up shop in Israel, India, and South Africa, bringing its total employee headcount to more than 4,000. 

Groupon had yet another announcement today: It has officially reached the $1 billion mark in money that subscribers have saved using its service.  I’m not so sure.  I’ve spent a lot more money on Groupon than Amazon in recent months.  And sometimes I buy things because I can’t just not buy something that’s 70% off. 

To put the potential Groupon IPO into perspective, we might reflect on another widely anticipated IPO a few years ago.  Back in 2004, Google offered 19.6 million shares for $85 a pop.  The company ended up selling $1.67 billion, which gave it a market cap of $23 billion.  Can Groupon replicate that success? 

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