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Groupon files for a $750-million IPO

June 2, 2011 |  2:03 pm

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Groupon is going public and looking to raise about $750 million in its first stock sale.

The Chicago-based daily deals website disclosed its initial public offering plans in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Tuesday, noting that it would like its stock to trade under the symbol "GRPN."

In the SEC filing, Groupon said its IPO would be made up of both new shares and a yet-to-be-determined number of shares that belong to current investors in the company, which was founded in 2008 and already raised $950 million in funding in January.

The SEC filing also included a letter from Groupon's founder and chief executive, Andrew Mason, addressed to "potential stockholders."

In the letter, Mason said that while Groupon was "looking forward to being a public company, we intend to continue operating according to the long-term focused principles that have gotten us to this point," according to the Chicago Tribune.

While the IPO had been speculated on for a few months, the SEC filing also offered the first public details about Groupon's operations and finances.

From the Tribune report:

The company brought in $644.7 million in revenue in the first quarter of 2011 but posted a net loss of $147 million for the period. In 2010, revenue was $713 million, and the company recorded a net loss of $456 million.

The filing showed that Groupon has high operating expenses, particularly related to marketing and customer acquisition. The company spent $241.5 million in 2010 and $179.9 million in the first quarter of 2011 on online marketing related to getting new subscribers.

"We anticipate that our operating expenses will increase substantially in the foreseeable future as we continue to invest to increase our subscriber base, increase the number and variety of deals we offer each day, expand our marketing channels, expand our operations, hire additional employees and develop our technology platform," Groupon said.

Groupon did not specify in the filing when it was hoping to launch its IPO, but did say that its underwriters would be Goldman, Sachs & Co. and Morgan Stanley.

Morgan Stanley was among the underwriters for LinkedIn's recent IPO, which saw the social networking site's share price rise 109% to $94.25 a share during the first day of trading. LinkedIn shares have since calmed down a bit; trading at $78.63 as of 1:30 p.m. Thursday.

In the SEC filing, Groupon said that, as of March 31, it was operating in 175 North American markets and 43 countries with about 83.1 million subscribers. The firm also has grown to 7,107 employees now from 37 employees in June 2009, the filing said.

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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: A street ad in Seoul touts Groupon deals for South Koreans. Credit: SeongJoon Cho / Bloomberg News

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