Business is rarely entirely about the money. While Google’s alleged $5 billion or $6 billion offer for Groupon would make many of us starry-eyed, without knowing what the terms of the deal were, we won’t second-guess Groupon’s decision to decline the big bucks. Anyone who has founded a company and considered selling all or part of it can relate to the cash-versus-king dilemma Groupon faced: Do you take the money and give up control? For the company’s deep-pocketed investors, the money wasn’t a reason to sell. As Eric Lefkofsky told Chicago Tribune reporter Melissa Harris: “At some point, you just stop counting,” counting your piles of money, that is.
Groupon might — or might not — go public any time soon. But an IPO is definitely a better strategy for a company with a competent management team like Groupon’s that wants to stay in charge. Still, the way the supposed Google deal came and went so quickly strikes us as remarkable. Some have speculated a stalking horse was involved to test Groupon’s value as the company begins exploring the IPO process. Did someone fly a kite in search of publicity? Deliberate or not, the buzz spread quickly and had the added effect of putting a spotlight on Chicago as home to the nation’s fastest growing tech company. Locally, it got people reading about business. Chicago is lucky to have a media-friendly tech darling to talk about. Groupon has been a shining star in an otherwise dark economy — and great gossip to boot.