Groupon Now

Why Groupon Now won’t work

In Andrew Mason’s recent letter to shareholders and in a press release touting 1.5 million Groupon Now deals sold, Groupon has been highlighting the product as an example of innovation and a potential positive for the beleaguered company.

Check-ins

AmEx is the king of check ins — and it could own local

Getting enough data to make local recommendations has proved tough. A restaurant reviewer writing for a local newspaper might write a hundred or so reviews a year. Zagat might cover several thousand in its printed books. Yelp provides near universal coverage in the United States, but it still doesn’t have enough information to provide useful recommendations.

Why Andrew Mason is still wrong about Groupon’s prospects

After an accounting restatement, a shuffling of its board of directors and Groupon’s stock falling to below 50 percent of its initial public offering price (and 66 percent off the high it reached on its first day of trading), Groupon CEO Andrew Mason wrote a letter to shareholders yesterday to try to swing the momentum back in the company’s favor.

Groupon changes payment terms

Groupon tightens its payment terms with merchants

Groupon is changing its payment terms with merchants, according to several sources familiar with Groupon’s business and contracts. The company has traditionally used two different payment models. In the United States and Canada, merchants have been paid in three installments.

Leaving Groupon

Top sales talent leaving Groupon as its woes mount

According to a former salesperson at Groupon, top sales talent is leaving the company as its troubles mount. As of this morning, Groupon reached another all time low, trading on the NASDAQ at $10, half off its $20 IPO price. In just the month of April, the stock lost 42% of its value.

Yelp

Why Yelp is the Digg of local

The other day, I tweeted “I should be able to ban anyone who rates Applebee’s 4* from ever influencing a Yelp result for me.” That sentiment touched a nerve among my followers. Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures coined it ” The Agrawal-Applebee Law”.

OrderHub

GrubHub is bringing restaurant ordering into the 21st century

Delivery and takeout order service GrubHub is testing its OrderHub service  in more than 400 restaurants in Chicago. I’ve complimented GrubHub before for adapting to how restaurants do business — by sending orders to them by fax. Now it’s helping some of its higher volume restaurants in Chicago automate the process with OrderHub, a tablet that alerts restaurants to new orders and allows them to confirm the order.

Viral

Secrets of Facebook’s success: Virality

As Facebook gets ready for its monster IPO, which will likely value the company at more than $100 billion, I thought it would be valuable to take a look at some of the critical product decisions that have led to its success.

Square

12 companies getting local right for small businesses

I’ve spent much of the last year talking about how the sites small businesses rely on to advertise and promote themselves — think Yelp and Groupon — are failing them. In fact, helping small businesses at the local level is extremely challenging for technology companies, for the following reasons:

window shopping

6 tips for buying a daily deal

With all of the doom and gloom surrounding Groupon, which reached yet another all-time low in trading today, I thought it would be useful to write up my best practices for buying Groupons and other daily deals.

newspapers

What does all the bad press mean for Groupon?

Groupon faced a deluge of bad press and unfavorable comparisons this week following its accounting restatement on March 30. This morning, I searched for Groupon and got this on Google News:

ss-finger-pointing

Who is to blame for the Groupon fiasco? Everyone

We’ve heard quite a few opinions about who’s to blame for Groupon’s IPO fiasco ever since the company announced a restatement of its earnings last Friday and indicated that it had material weakness in its internal controls. Andrew Ross Sorkin of The New York Times blames greedy tech companies. Sarah Lacy of Pando Daily blames greedy Wall Street bankers. They’re both right — and they’re both wrong. The blame for this fiasco can be spread far and wide.

calculator

Groupon’s restatement doesn’t add up

Chicago-based investment research firm Morningstar can’t make the numbers in Groupon’s restatement add up. In a research note it sent to clients, who are institutional investors, it wrote:

collapse

Why Groupon is poised for collapse

Groupon was forced to restate fourth quarter earnings, sending its stock down 6% in after-hours trading. This surprised me as much as my $2 investment in the Mega Millions jackpot not paying off.

Square

Square adds encryption to its Square reader

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="501" caption="The old (unopened) reader is on the left; the new reader is on the right, with encryption and a battery."][/caption]

Groupon’s new Scheduler feature has potential, but two very big IFs

Groupon today launched a wide beta of its Groupon Scheduler product. The Scheduler is an online calendaring tool that allows service businesses such as spas, yoga studios, contractors and photographers to take reservations online. It’s open to all merchants, not just companies that run deals with Groupon. The daily deals company is billing it as a “free trial,” and it’s unclear whether Groupon will eventually charge for the service. Groupon did not respond to two requests for comment on this story.

How Amazon can be a friend to small businesses

I’ve been testing out the Kindle Fire tablet for the last several weeks. At $199, it’s a tremendous value. It’s no iPad — I just upgraded to the new iPad as well — but it provides a solid base-level tablet and reader. I can think of a lot of uses for it: an e-book reader, a video consumption device, and a dedicated Sonos controller. But the most exciting use I can see for it would be for Amazon to turn into a device that helps small, local retailers.

PayPal POS

PayPal’s new POS service is a Piece Of Sh*t

PayPal is set to announce a major new payments service tomorrow. According to a GigaOm report, it plans to introduce a dongle that will compete with Square and Intuit’s GoPayment product.

Judges Table

How to pitch your startup at conferences

I attended the Launch conference in San Francisco yesterday and saw quite a few pitches. Unfortunately, many entrepreneurs are still making the same mistakes they’ve been making for years.

DCA Airport

What Silicon Valley can learn from a failure in public policy

Across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., sits Washington National Airport (DCA). It’s one of my favorite airports. Two of the three terminals are bright and airy. It’s not as congested as other airports on the East Coast. Security lines aren’t usually an issue. It’s connected to D.C.’s Metro system more efficiently than BART is connected to San Francisco International Airport. If you don’t want to take Metro, downtown D.C. is a cheap taxi ride away.

Whale

Groupon’s whale problem

I’ve long suspected that Groupon has a whale problem — that a lot of its revenue comes from a small number of customers. New research from ForeSee indicates that this may be the case.

A 1-star review of Yelp’s advertiser agreement

Yelp’s advertiser agreement combines some of the worst elements of Yellow Pages, Aol and cell phone agreements. As with many such agreements, it’s very lopsided in Yelp’s favor. (See my analysis of the similarly lopsided Groupon merchant agreement.)

Rocky Agrawal

Twitter partners with AmEx to tackle local ad market

Twitter has announced a new partnership with American Express to allow small businesses to advertise on the popular social network. The program is due to launch in late March for American Express cardholders and merchants.