It might be easier to just write about who hasn’t been trying to buy Groupon. Shortly after Yahoo announced its Local Offers feature, rumors that Google is looking to acquire Groupon have been circulating. Yahoo reportedly tried to buy out the daily coupon site for up to three billion, only to be turned down – meaning Google will try and make Groupon an offer it can’t refuse. All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher claims that inside sources are certain Google will easily outbid Yahoo.
Google is, wisely, trying to make a better name for itself in the location-technology realm, and recently reformatted its Product Search engine, giving significantly more focus to local retailers in its search results. The browser has also added Hotpot to its local search arsenal to try to enhance its social presence as well. All good attempts, but let’s be honest, Google needs something a bit more established in order to get committed users. Which it tried before: Google was interested in acquiring Yelp last year in order to flush out its local search, but negotiations fell through.
The chance to add Groupon to its enhanced features does two things for Google: First, Google doesn’t have to create its own carbon copy of the deals site. Second, it can ride Groupon’s instant brand recognition.
It seems like Groupon wants to start a bidding war over itself, so don’t feel too bad about the startup losing its independence. Companies are lining up to woo Groupon, with names like Amazon, Microsoft, and eBay (which already partners with the site) making their interest known. And now that every major site in existence is playing the daily deals game (Facebook anyone?), this could be an opportune time for Groupon to get theirs and get out.
Still, Groupon’s investors have made a reputation for themselves as wanting to keep the site independent. Maybe the company is just a big tease, flirting with the big names but never actually willing to seal the deal. And of course, there’s likely to be some red tape on Google’s end, seeing as the company has been on shaky ground with the federal government for over-exercising its buying power.