Investors pump $950M into Groupon

Groupon will use the money to reward employees and early-stage backers, expand operations and boost its technology

Groupon has completed its US$950 million funding round and the money will be used to improve its technology infrastructure, continue its business expansion and let employees and existing investors cash out stock, the online coupon provider said late Monday.

With Allen & Co. as the financial adviser, the round included investments from Andreessen Horowitz, Battery Ventures, DST, Greylock Partners, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Maverick Capital, Silver Lake and Technology Crossover Ventures.

In a filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in December, Groupon said that it was more than halfway through the funding round and that about $345 million of the money would go as payments to executive officers, directors and early backers of the company.

In 2010, Groupon spread its operations from one to 35 countries, set up shop in close to 500 new local markets, increased its subscriber base from 2 million to 50 million and offered more than 100,000 deals from 58,000 businesses, the company said on Monday.

Founded in 2008, Groupon partners with local merchants to offer steep discounts on their products and services. However, the deals become valid only when a minimum number of Groupon members commit to them.

Groupon, which has about 3,000 employees, takes a commission from each deal. The consensus from financial analysts is that Groupon was on track to generate about $500 million in revenue in 2010.

Groupon's board reportedly walked away from a $6 billion acquisition offer by Google in early December.

If Google had bought Groupon, it would have put the search company in a leading position in the thriving online coupon market and given its local advertising business a significant boost.

However, the deal would have been by far Google's largest acquisition, and the price tag made industry observers and Google investors flinch, because Groupon's business model is being successfully mimicked by many competitors already.

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