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Groupon's 'gangbusters' IPO: 4 takeaways
At long last, the daily deals giant goes public. Does its soaring stock price finally prove Groupon's worth — or lack thereof?
 
Groupon employees ring the opening bell in celebration of the company's IPO at the Nasdaq in New York.
Groupon employees ring the opening bell in celebration of the company's IPO at the Nasdaq in New York.
REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

On Friday, after months of anticipation, Groupon finally went public. And even though recent filings have shown that the company is bleeding hundreds of millions of dollars, Groupon's stock opened at $28, up 40 percent from its IPO price of $20. The stock climbed as high as $31.14 before closing at $26.11. Of course, the daily deals site's first day on the Nasdaq has generated plenty of chatter. Here, four things people see in Groupon's "gangbusters" IPO:

1. Groupon's IPO was the biggest since Google
Groupon's IPO was priced at $20 per share, giving the company a market value of $12.7 billion, notes the Associated Press. "That makes Groupon the biggest technology IPO since Google went public in 2004." Hmmm, "can Groupon be the next tech industry giant that Google has grown to be?" asks Nathan Olivarez-Giles in the Los Angeles Times. Groupon certainly seems sure of itself, but many outside of the company are doubtful and have nagging concerns about the business model and potential for profit.

2. But in other ways, the IPO was tiny
"Groupon has broken at least one record," says Joshua M. Brown at The Christian Science Monitor: "The smallest public float ever for an IPO." Just 4.7 percent of the company's shares were made available to investors. Is Groupon even really a public company? Yeah, I thought LinkedIn and Pandora were bad when they floated less than 10 percent instead of the typical one third, says Brian Bergstein at Technology Review. But Groupon takes the cake. Its decision should help keep the stock price high, even if the demand is only moderate. But making so few shares available might not give Groupon enough capital to give it the big "finanical cushion" it needs to figure out its business plan in an increasingly competitive market. 

3. This Groupon bubble will pop soon
"With its decreasing profit margins, fishy accounting, massive marketing expenses, floundering innovations, massive insider payouts, and surging competitors, Groupon is surely not worth $13 billion, or whatever its market cap is at this very moment," says Nicholas Thompson at The New Yorker. Share prices will soon drop. That's what happens with these tech darlings. "If you have stock, sell it immediately."

4. Actually, this IPO proves skeptics wrong
It's easy to be skeptical about Groupon's long-terms prospects, and indeed, there are some "legitimate concerns" about its business model, says Byrne Hobart at Adotas. But the company is nearly in the black as its competitors go belly up, and really, the "worst you can say about them is that they're an attention-grabbing company in a volatile industry." This IPO can be seen as Groupon proving all its critics wrong. Vindication!

 

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