Liz Gannes

Recent Posts by Liz Gannes

Google Offers: Really, Another Blatant Groupon Copy?

Google today launched a sign-up page for its anticipated Google Offers beta, saying the service will soon offer “50% off or more” at “places to eat, shop, play & stay” via “regular emails.” The company said its first beta-testing city will be Portland, Oregon, and also offered options to sign up in neighborhoods in the San Francisco Bay Area and New York City.

While there’s little information available as yet, there’s nothing from the snazzy landing page or cute hype-building promotional video that indicates Google Offers will do anything different from Groupon and its various clones. A form asks interested merchants to sign up to be contacted, indicating the platform may not be self-serve.

Not to say copying Groupon is not a bad business model; it’s obviously worked for LivingSocial, and Facebook will soon launch a Deals service as well.

But obviously Google has many weapons at its command, including its sales force, brand and automatic recognition of signed-in users’ email addresses. Plus, there’s the motivational sting of failing to buy Groupon after serious talks late last year. “The possibilities are mind-numbing!” says the Offers video. Or maybe they’re the same as what we’ve seen before.

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald