Groupon Fuels Hype with $700 Million IPO

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After some drama, and some back-and-forth over its valuation, Groupon has today gone public and begun trading on the NASDAQ at a record IPO of around $700 million, the second-biggest IPO in tech history after Google.

While the company initially priced its shares at $20 last night, they jumped up to a peak of $30 today, and leveled off at $26. As Groupon is floating 35 million shares (only about 5.5% of its 637.3 million shares, as TechCrunch reports), this places its market cap at around 16.6 billion.

This estimate approaches the $20 billion valuation that was whispered about this summer. While revelations that Groupon was potentially concealing a $400 million net loss in 2010 led its valuation to plummet to $5 to $10 billion this fall, its IPO reaffirms that rejecting Google’s $6 billion offer was wise.

Yet it remains to be seen whether the initial buzz will decline; will potential buyers grow wary given the company’s recent missteps and the number of competitors cropping up? 

After an IPO this large, daily deals sites around the world will be incentivized to grow with the hope of either selling to a U.S.-based giant, as GoNabit did to LivingSocial, or going public themselves. Certainly stakeholders in GoNabit must now be dreaming of cashing out if and when LivingSocial goes public. Who will be the next to start up another daily deals site in the Arab World?

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