UPDATE: Groupon’s complaints have increased dramatically over 2012. Numerous websites have published articles on this:
Groupon’s page on HelloPeter
VentureBurn / MemeBurn:
Court action in the UK:
Groupon in court in SA:
Groupon apologises on ITWeb:
Of all the group buying websites, Groupon has received the most publicity, both good and bad. And rightly so – Groupon has done some amazing things for social commerce in general, and also made some horrid mistakes. All part and parcel of the world’s newest industry gaining its maturity.
First of all, it should be added that this website focuses on group buying in South Africa, and so any history and news of Groupon overseas will be brief. Groupon started in the US in November 2008 and quickly started amassing subscribers. Being the first in the industry to really create hype around the idea, it took off quickly and Groupon has since been put forward as the fastest growing company in the world (although this is not necessarily a positive comment – growing too fast is bad for business).
During 2011, Groupon put forward to be listed on the New York stock exchange and ran for an IPO. This IPO process is still not complete, and after a slew of bad press and a renewed submission of documents with different financials, some say that it will not go ahead at all.
Groupon in South Africa
Nevertheless, Groupon has grown fantastically fast and sell the most coupons. In South Africa, the website Twangoo was started by two entrepreneurs with very little or no online experience, and through tenacity and hard work brought the website to the point where Groupon wished to buy it. After it was bought, the groupon.co.za domain took a while to buy from Wicount, who had first registered it.
The move was perfectly timed, since South Africa was just starting to become aware of group buying, and also Twangoo was listed as a spammer in South Africa. The new domain started the business from afresh and the company could continue with the correct procedures in place. For a while Groupon operated as MyCityDeal
All the while, it must be noted that Groupon in South Africa has always been operated and run by Twangoo South Africa, as stated in their terms and conditions. Groupon has faced a lot of criticism from competitors, similar to any company at the top of its industry. This has seemingly made it stronger and it now boasts a full call centre, a sales team, a marketing division and solid technical expertise.
Myths about Groupon:
(sent in by a reader)
- Groupon was not the first group buying website online. That honour belongs to Mercata. Groupon often calls other websites “clones”, but this is simply very clever marketing.
- Groupon is not the top group buying website in every country it exists in. In South Korea, for example, Groupon has never been in the top spot. Worldwide, however, Groupon is still the biggest, with LivingSocial close behind.
- Groupon does not always require a minimum number of buyers higher than 1. Many deals are tipped from the first purchase, and this adds depth to the great deals that Groupon offers.
- Andrew Mason, a co-founder of the company, owns Groupon. Actually there are numerous investors and some that have even been paid out already.
The fact remains that Groupon is an amazing company, and has led the industry for some time with the way it has marketed and driven the group buying scene globally. Whether it will stay that way in the future will remain to be seen, and it’s IPO in the United States will definitely have an impact on what transpires next.
Here is a good look at the Groupon.co.za website, which launched in August 2011. It naturally mimics the overseas holding company’s look and feel.
Should you wish to comment on Groupon internationally or in South Africa, please do so below.