Bloomberg News

Groupon Changes Tallies to Make Sales Estimates ‘Impossible’

October 10, 2011

(Updates with IPO filing in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 10 (Bloomberg) -- Groupon Inc., saying it wants to be “transparent” about a “lack of transparency,” will change how it reports the number of daily deals sold, an effort to make it harder for researchers to predict its growth.

Groupon, which makes money from selling online coupons, will under-report the number of coupons purchased by 0.5 percent to 19.5 percent, it said in a blog posting. It also will be capping and rounding the counter from time to time.

“This change is meant to continue to reflect deal popularity while making it clearly impossible to predict our sales,” Chicago-based Groupon said in a blog posting yesterday. “We’re blogging about it to be transparent about our lack of transparency.”

Groupon, which this year filed to raise $750 million in an initial public offering, makes most of its revenue selling daily deals for local restaurants, hotels and other merchants. Some researchers are using the counter to make “consistently incorrect” estimates of the company’s total revenue, Groupon said, without identifying which ones.

Revenue for the daily-deal industry increased 12 percent to $266.6 million in September from August, according to data released last week by researcher Yipit.com. That followed a 9 percent gain in August, Yipit said.

LivingSocial and other daily-deal website rivals will generate $4.17 billion in U.S. sales in 2015, more than double the amount this year, research firm BIA/Kelsey estimates.

Groupon began testing the new counter toward the end of last month and expects it to be enabled for all deals within a few weeks.

Groupon has drawn criticism for unusual accounting practices, rising marketing costs and the loss of two chief operating officers in six months. The startup postponed its IPO and pushed back meetings with investors due to stock-market swings, people familiar with the matter said last month.

--Editor: Tom Giles

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Womack in San Francisco at bwomack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tom Giles at tgiles5@bloomberg.net


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