Two years ago, Google offered to buy daily deal giant Groupon for $6bn. The Chicago-based startup, at the time one of the fastest growing companies in the world, refused. Late last year, it went public and saw its valuation soar to more than $17bn on the first day of trading.
It has been all downhill since then and on Tuesday, following an earnings report that disappointed investors, Groupon shares have plummeted more than 30% to their lowest level yet. Today, the market values Groupon at well under $4bn.
This isn't surprising given the Wall Street is increasingly skeptical about Groupon's business model. As one analyst put it, "It appears the daily deal business has run into a wall." That may be true, but it's just one part of the story. In reality, the demise of Groupon as we know it arguably has to do with the way Groupon handled its relationship with the local businesses it works with.
With upstarts like Square trying to disrupt the payments space, often using technologies that interoperate with consumer devices like the iPad, it's no surprise that larger entrenched players are fighting back with similar offerings.
Point-of-sale giant VeriFone, for instance, is positioning itself to be the Switzerland of payment solutions, and PayPal is making a big offline push with physical retailers and card readers for smaller businesses.
Yahoo may be putting 50 of its properties on the chopping block as new CEO Scott Thompson looks to make the once-dominant internet portal a little leaner and more nimble, but apparently small businesses are important enough to Yahoo that it will create new products.
Today, Yahoo did just that by launching an online dashboard designed specifically for small businesses.
Yesterday, United States President Barack Obama signed into law the JOBS Act, which may be the most significant update to securities regulations since Sarbanes–Oxley was passed in 2002.
One portion of the new law, the CROWDFUND Act, has been creating a lot of buzz in Silicon Valley for months, as it will make it legal for startups the ability to raise money in small chunks from large numbers of non-accredited investors.
In the past, some search industry observers have suggested that Google has increasingly favored brands in its SERPs.
Supporting the arguments that Google has a brand bias were quotes like those made by Eric Schmidt, Google's now-former CEO, who once stated that the internet was becoming a "cesspool" and that "brands are how you sort out the cesspool".
From the largest of brands to the mom-and-pop store down the street, it seems like every business is setting up a social media presence of some type.
And for good reason: everywhere you look, somebody is extolling the virtues of social media and what it can do for businesses.
But social media, like most channels, has its limitations.
Scott Roen is vice president of digital marketing for the
award-winning American Express OPEN Forum, which was established to position the financial service provider at the center of small business relationships.
We talked with Roen about how AmEx took its offline learning to develop the online community and what has been discovered about driving engagement.
Google AdWords could arguably be the best advertising platform ever for
small and medium-sized businesses ever, but mastering it to maximize ROI
and minimize waste isn't easy.
AdWords be dangerous for the novice
advertiser thanks in large part to a dizzying array of options and settings
which, when not understood or recognized, can mean the difference
between prosperity and disappointment.
According to a Wall Street Journal article, a growing number of
advertisers are discovering that they're losing out because of one of
Google's broad match features that targets ads based on searches a user
performs during his or her Google session.
Running a B2B business can be highly profitable, but building and maintaining a successful business can be challenging. One reason: relationships are often complicated by conflicts, both real and perceived.
A timely example of this can be seen with one of the hottest consumer
internet startups of the moment, Groupon. While the company is 'killing it' financially, there's increasing criticism and
skepticism over Groupon and it has a lot to do with the realization
that, in some instances at least, Groupon may be profiting at the
expense of the local businesses it's supposed to be helping.
Econsultancy has just published 'Selling online: a how to guide for small businesses', which provides a step by step guide for SMEs.
The report was written by entrepreneur and e-commerce consultant Trevor Ginn, who founded online retailer Hello Baby in 2007.
I've been speaking to Trevor about the report, and his e-commerce tips for small businesses...