Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

How Market Fares After Labor Day Will Determine if Groupon’s IPO Is Delayed — Or Even Pulled (Or Not)

No other recent Web 2.0 company has undergone more scrutiny of late than Groupon.

And that’s why some are wondering if — especially given the still dicey economic situation and the continued turmoil in the markets — the Chicago-based social buying company might delay or even pull its IPO.

Not so. Yet, at least. But that could change quickly.

Several sources close to the situation said that while Groupon’s management and board have not ruled out such a scenario, they will not make any determination about such a drastic move until after the landscape becomes clearer and also after the summer is officially over tomorrow.

“Clearly, the markets are much different than when Groupon started this public offering process,” said one person who is familiar with the internal debate within the company. “But no one can get a real sense of whether it gets better or worse for the next few weeks — that’s where the real questions begin.”

It’s not a bad thing for Groupon to be asking.

While gaming start-up Zynga, in comparison, ferrets away quietly on its way to an IPO, Groupon has been getting a daily smackdown on one of the many issues that seem to have captured the — mostly negative — attention of investors and the media.

Among the topics most mentioned: Groupon’s controversial accounting called ACSOI, or adjusted consolidated segment operating income; questions about its growth prospect in more mature markets; worries about whether the company can cut its marketing costs and still retain customers; and whether it will garner the giant valuations, once upward of $15 billion, that have been bandied about.

Aside from defending itself in a recent email sent to employees from its CEO Andrew Mason, Groupon cannot give complete public answers to these questions until after its IPO, due to regulatory rules.

While Mason’s damn-the-torpedoes missive seemed to be trying to communicate a strong confidence in the company, it’s clear that all the attacks on the company have become frustrating for him.

His internal communication, which was published here first, has also attracted more controversy, and some have suggested it violates regulatory rules.

So far, although it seems likely, the Securities and Exchange Commission has not commented on the email.

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There was a worry before I started this that I was going to burn every bridge I had. But I realize now that there are some bridges that are worth burning.

— Valleywag editor Sam Biddle