The blogosphere and virtually every business- and tech-related news outlet spent most of Tuesday writing, tweeting, and otherwise speculating about just how big Google's offer for Groupon really was. Never mind that neither company had confirmed the existence of the offer. That small detail aside, the Wall Street Journal reported late Tuesday that Groupon's board was, in fact, meeting Wednesday to consider Google's offer.
That offer, pegged throughout the day at anywhere from $2.5 billion to over $6 billion, was, according to the Journal's unnamed sources, "a big number." A good many startups wouldn't need to consider a purchase offer upwards of $6 billion for too long, but in a testament to the power of Groupon's brand, product, and market positioning, there is apparently considerable debate on the board over the company's options.
Again, according to the Journal's sources,
Ahead of the call, "there's a lot of debate going on" among the various directors, this person added. The start-up is also considering other options, including pursuing an initial public offering, this person said.
The sort of targeted, social, local buying engine into which Groupon is evolving is quickly becoming at least one of a few holy grails of Internet tech and business. Will Google have the opportunity to leverage Groupon's existing community of 12 million users (and their credit card data and buying history) and the obvious business acumen of its staff? It remains to be seen whether Groupon's board and/or federal regulators will stand in the way.
Or, for that matter, if this isn't all just Google rumor-mongering. The latter is pretty unlikely, though. Given Google's acquisition history this year (and the rumor storm that preceded each one), it's most likely going to be a very interesting day for Groupon execs tomorrow.