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Groupon stumps for and tries to protect its IPO

October 27, 2011 | 10:08 am

Groupon is still on top of its competitors, but to stay there, it’ll have to cut out the bottom 10% of its staff, Chief Executive Andrew Mason said this week.

In Boston for a nationwide roadshow seeking investors for its upcoming initial public offering, Mason assured portfolio managers that his company was sound, according to Reuters.

Groupon, which offers daily coupons for local as well as major businesses, features unique technology and an innovative mindset, Mason said.

And to score deeper discounts from merchants, the company will shave off the worst-performing 10% of its 4,800-person-strong sales staff and replace them with new hires.

The company, which has yet to turn a net profit, is expected to price its IPO on Nov. 3, after the roadshow works its way through Chicago, Denver, New York and San Francisco.

Groupon’s IPO has been plagued by false starts, including valuation expectations that have been more than halved from a June high of $25 billion. Competition is rampant, with LivingSocial and a growing gang of emerging sites stealing away subscribers and merchant partners.

Groupon seems to be on edge, sending its lawyers recently after a parody website that mocks the IPO, according to the Wall Street Journal.

On a landing page that resembles Groupon’s site, online retailer Cat5Commerce is pretending to sell the IPO, which it jokes is now available for a “bargain basement price.”

In an irreverent description, Cat5Commerce writes: “Owning a piece of what Forbes deemed "the fastest growing company ever" will be akin to governing a province in the Roman Empire. People on the street? They'll know your name. People in buildings? They'll probably know it too. C'mon. Make Warren Buffett look like a chump today.”

Also for sale: The sock puppet for $10 and the MySpace logo for one cent.

Groupon has demanded that the site, which notes that it is “a digital parody meant to provide satirical commentary,” be taken down.


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-- Tiffany Hsu

Photo: Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press