Groupon walks away from Google takeover talks - report

By Stacy Cowley, tech editor


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- After weeks of negotiations about a potential takeover, Groupon appears to have walked away from would-be suitor Google.

Groupon turned down a Google bid rumored to be between $5 billion and $6 billion, according to multiple news reports citing sources close to the talks. The news of the breakup was first reported by the Chicago Tribune's Breaking Business blog, which has tracked Chicago-based Groupon's meteoric rise since the company was founded in 2008.

The daily-deals site is among the fastest-growing companies in history. Run by 30-year-old founder and CEO Andrew Mason (#25 on this year's edition of Fortune's "40 under 40" list), Groupon has 35 million subscribers; 3,000 employees; and operates in more than 300 cities around the world.

The site has sold more than 18 million coupons for local merchants since its launch, and is reportedly turning a profit on sales that press reports put as high as $2 billion a year.

In just 17 months, Groupon's valuation by investors had already topped $1 billion, according to Forbes magazine, which called that a growth record.

Groupon pioneered a model that marries together local advertising and social networking -- and its success launched a legion of imitators. The most successful of them, LivingSocial, landed a $175 million investment Thursday from Amazon.com (AMZN, Fortune 500).

Amid intense speculation about his company's fate, Groupon founder Mason has adopted an irreverent tone.

Two months ago he quipped to CNNMoney that he would rather be bought by a company like Exxon or McDonald's than a tech stalwart like Google -- "someone totally weird," he joked.

Earlier this week, he told the New York Times that he wouldn't comment on the Google talks but would be happy to discuss his other passion, "building miniature dollhouses."

Losing Groupon would be a blow for Google, which tried last year to acquire local reviews site Yelp for a price tag believed to be around $500 million. The company has recently ramped up its focus on the local market, moving longtime user-experience head Marissa Mayer to a new role as chief of its local and location services business. To top of page

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