According to sources close to the situation, Google has offered $5.3 billion for Groupon, in what would be its largest acquisition yet, if completed.
Sources said the deal for the Chicago-based social buying site seems likely to be struck, even as early as tomorrow, although it certainly could fall apart right up to the end.
But, if done, it will move the search giant instantly to the top spot in local commerce online and give it huge troves of data about consumer buying habits and merchant information across the globe.
Combined with its pending $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, the travel data firm, that should freak out regulators worldwide and could be considered Google’s own version of a jobs plan for antitrust lawyers.
That said, it is a killer move for Google–despite the high price–given it has long tried to enter the local advertising space, with decidedly mixed results.
With its more than $33 billion in cash and strong stock, it had previously tried to buy local reviews site Yelp, in a deal that fell apart for reasons that are still unclear.
In contrast, Groupon, founded in 2008, has taken off like a Roman candle and dominates the huge market for social shopping and discounting.
While the $6 billion Google is considering paying seems high, Groupon’s fast-growing revenue and profitability make its multiples less daunting, said those familiar with the matter.
It will certainly be a big payoff for Groupon’s investors, including Silicon Valley’s Accel Partners, as well as Battery Ventures, New Enterprise Associates and Russia’s DST Global.
Groupon has gleaned about $170 million in venture funding from them, most of which it has not needed.
That’s because it has reportedly attracted upward of $50 million in monthly revenue.
It has done this by offering “daily deals”–getting a massive discount from local retailers in return for delivering customers via marketing via email and on social networks, especially Facebook and Twitter.