Chicago’s Groupon Turns 5

Who says Chicago can’t be a start-up town?

Windy City-based Groupon is celebrating its fifth anniversary this week by rolling out a new, sleek homepage, in addition to Apple & Android app redesigns and special deals for Chicago-area and nationwide customers.

It certainly hasn’t been an easy ride; before its IPO back in November of 2011, the SEC began investigating Groupon for “irregular” (read: illegal, incorrect, wrong, etc) accounting practices. Before that (and, even since) there have been numerous reports of local merchants unable to fulfill upon the exorbitant volume of Groupon Deals purchased through the site, and even some that have lost a significant amount of money and/or actually closed due to the massive response. And, of course, there’s the almost Google takeover, which Groupon (rather stunningly) dismissed.

Then, there’s Andrew Mason.

I don’t know the man, nor do I believe all of the negative press he’s received over the years. I won’t rehash or link to any of the stories, but I’m sure you’ve seen them. Some are undoubtedly true; many likely exaggerated or downright false. That said, it hasn’t been pretty. Which is why his ouster, back in February, came as no real surprise, as the company looks to turn around its image in the public eye.

Financially, Groupon is still about 60% off of its original IPO price. After an abysmal 4th quarter, in which the company posted an $81 million loss, their Q2 loss shrunk to just $8 million. They’ve recently announced a $300 million share buyback program, which has boosted the stock price and created a new sense of energy in the company.

New CEO Eric Lefkofsky has plans on extending the “mobile marketplace” that Groupon has become, looking to grab an even larger share of the daily deals market. With Friday’s app revamp, Groupon’s service was made available in 12 new international markets, including Puerto Rico, Mexico, Russia, Thailand, New Zealand, Ireland, French Canada, Austria, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and the Philippines.

As part of the 5th anniversary celebration, Chicago residents will be treated with special offers from restaurants like Da Lobsta (delish, btw) & the opportunity to win “Groupon Bucks” just by logging in to the site. In addition, the company is launching a new Gift Shop on the website that will feature “unique collections and gifts from local businesses, Groupon Goods & Groupon Getaways.”