Groupon is facing troubled times as at least four of their investors, including Silicon Valley veteran Marc Andreessen, head for the door. They’re losing faith in the once promising company.
Andreessen’s firm, Andreessen Horowitz, was responsible for $40 million of the $950 million funding that Groupon received before they went public. Shortly after the IPO, the firm sold 5.1 million Groupon shares after restrictions on selling the stock expired June 1. Andreessen Horowitz earned a profit of almost $14 million when they sold Groupon’s shares.
Andreessen, Starbucks Corp. Chief Executive Howard Schultz – former Groupon director, John Doerr and Mary Meeker – partners at venture-capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, a Groupon investor, were not too thrilled with Groupon going public, stating that it was too early and they’re still a young company. But Groupon chairman and co-founder Eric Lefkofsky pushed the company’s CEO Andrew Mason to go public. They believed that they saw enormous profit in going public so they pushed with it.
Last week, the company reported that their second-quarter revenue rose 45 percent to $568.3 million compared to last year, but billings – the money it collects from its coupon-like offers before paying a cut to merchants – rose 38 percent to $1.29 billion, down by 5 percent compared to the previous quarter. The five percent decline is what’s bugging investors.
The daily deals company went public about a year ago and since then, its shares have continued to dwindle. What’s happening to Groupon, Facebook and Zynga, stocks reminds analysts of the dot.com bubble burst in 2000. But some people have a different take on what’s happening to Groupon. First of all, they don’t see Groupon as a tech company so it’s not fair to put it up with the likes of Facebook and Zynga.
“Groupon isn’t the only company that uses technology but isn’t really a technology company, nonetheless enjoying investors’ decision to value it as a technology company,” Om Malik of GigaOm stated. “Just because a company uses the web and uses social networks (instead of real estate and old media) to sell things and find new audiences doesn’t mean that it should be put in the same bucket as, say, a company offering storage services to large companies, or even running world’s biggest social identity platform.”
In other Groupon news, the daily deals company is facing the wrath of animal rights advocates as it continues to sell tickets from circuses that already received numerous citations for violating animal rights from the USDA for violations of the Animal Welfare Act. Groupon sells tickets from circuses claiming they only promote circuses with “clean [U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)] and public record inspection reports from at least the past 2 years.” People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals wrote to Groupon asking it to stop lying to their customers and to actually visit the circuses they are promoting so they’ll see how the animals are actually being treated.