Groupon files to raise $175M in IPO

grouponJust yesterday, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason took the stage at the D9 conference to talk with All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher. Mason took a few jabs at Google Offers, commented on the Groupon clones out there, and very much avoided talking about the company’s looming IPO. After Swisher persistently grilled him on the topic, he told her to switch topics as he had nothing but “bullshit answers.”

But Mason should now be prepared to talk about nothing but a Groupon IPO, as the company has filed an S-1 form with the SEC. At the beginning of May, it was reported that the deal-a-day originator was in a rush to go public. Nearly a month later, Morgan Stanley is leading the way as the company seeks to raise $175 million in an IPO.

The timing seems right. The company was recently valued at around $20 billion, and as criticisms pile up and oversaturation reaches a new high, Groupon is ready to see some of that money. There’s also the matter of big name competitors like Google, Amazon, and Facebook throwing their hats into the daily deals ring even as LivingSocial becomes an increasingly able challenger. Now, Groupon is poised to reap the rewards of its innovation.

In a blog post, Groupon simply offers up its “yawn-inducing” press release and thanks visitors for caring about the company. According to said press release, “the number of shares to be offered and the price range for the offering have not yet been determined. A portion of the shares will be issued and sold by Groupon, and a portion will be sold by certain stockholders of Groupon.” Of course, what its S-1 reveals is far more interesting:

  • 2011 first quarter revenues reached $644.7 million.
  • In 2010, Groupon generated free cash flow of $72.2 million.
  • The company admits it is seeing strong competition from the likes of Facebook, Google, and Microsoft (Bing).
  • As of March 31, Groupon had $208.7 million in cash and cash equivalents.
  • Groupon wants to invest in expanding its sales force, grow domestically and internationally, and possibly even acquire “complementary businesses.”
  • The company lost $413 million in 2010.
  • Mason’s salary this year? $575. That’s only because of selling a mass amount of stock – in 2010 he took home $180,000.
  • Who owns most of Groupon: Mason owns 7.7-percent, Robert S. Solomon (founder, former president and COO) owns 6.8-percent, Bradley A. Keywell (founder) owns 6.9 percent, and Eric P. Lefkofsky (founder, executive chairman) owns 21.6-percent.

Groupon lovers shouldn’t worry the site is going to undergo drastic change. In the SEC filings, a personal letter from Mason explains that “While we’re 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.” This includes, according to Mason, the quirky Groupon attitude: “We are unusual and we like it that way…life is too short to be a boring company.”

So is this just one more indication that we’re in the throes of an IPO wave? Earlier this year we listed a number of social media companies that were rumored to be going public and we’re currently four for six: LinkedIn, Pandora, Zynga, and now Groupon have all filed their S-1 forms.

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