Yelp said last week that it’s going to add offers/deals as an incentive to check in. I had wondered when there were going to tie their long-standing local merchant offers to check-ins. However this is a new program:
Later this month, we’ll be building on top of Yelp Check-ins by introducing Check-in Offers. Check-in Offers are different from Sales and Special Offers, a popular feature we’ve had for over 2 years in which more than a half-million announcements have been created to-date. Yelp is a transactional website, and upcoming features like Check-in Offers help to further bridge online discovery and offline buying. In other words no one types “Sushi” near “Los Angeles” for fun.
This essentially duplicates the intended functionality and benefits of Facebook Deals: there’s a deal or offer associated with checking in. However Facebook Deals offers a more limited consumer experience than Yelp. In other words you can’t do much research or search on Facebook Places. The larger context and utility around deals on Yelp is much more comprehensive and complete.
Separately Bloomberg is reporting that Groupon is looking for yet more funding:
Groupon Inc., owner of a daily coupon website with 20 million subscribers, is seeking venture funding that may value the company at about $3 billion, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The company aims to raise the funding to help it expand beyond the 230 markets where it now operates, said the people, who declined to be identified because the fundraising is private. The company had been discussing funding that would value it in the range of $2 billion to $3 billion, two of the people said.
Given that the service is practically printing money and that it raised a huge funding round not long ago (April, 2010) this is curious, if true. It must be about building yet more scale (and buying more sales reps) in an effort to elevate the brand amid the onslaught and potentially “dilutive” effect of so many competitors. If the money does get raised it makes an acquisition nearly impossible and an IPO necessary at some point.
I’ve written a couple of times briefly about Groupon Stores, which is an attempt to broaden out Groupon’s utility to merchants. At a certain point, however, Groupon will further broaden out what it offers business owners. We might then see a range of online marketing products for SMBs.
At that point Groupon starts to look more like a local sales channel for multiple products than a single, consumer-focused deals offering.