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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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik