WBEZ | Groupon http://www.wbez.org/tags/groupon Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Emanuel backed by tech's most powerful players http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-backed-techs-most-powerful-players-111814 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/rahm-google-AP-Photo-Charles-Dharapak-01282009_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Mayor Rahm Emanuel is scheduled to make a stop Thursday with one of his coziest constituencies: Chicago&rsquo;s tech community.</p><p>It turns out, the warm, fuzzy feeling between the two is mutual.</p><p>One of Emanuel&rsquo;s major successes as mayor has been his courting of tech companies. During his reelection campaign, Emanuel has touted the jobs he&rsquo;s brought to the city, especially from tech companies.</p><p><a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20140815/BLOGS11/140819897/chicagos-tech-job-growth-near-the-top-of-u-s-cities">Chicago added nearly 12,000 tech jobs from 2011 to 2013 according to a report from CBRE Inc</a>.</p><p>With Google in the West Loop and Motorola Mobility in Merchandise Mart alongside local startups like Braintree, Chicago has been boosted by the tech community.</p><p>And so has Mayor Emanuel.</p><p>A scroll through donor lists to Mayor Emanuel&rsquo;s campaign reads like the Fortune 500 list for tech. It includes not just the most well-known names in Chicago&rsquo;s tech community, but also the heads of Apple, Google and Microsoft, all donating since Emanuel began his first run for mayor in 2010.</p><ul><li>Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google; donated $55,300 last year, including $50,000 in December</li><li>Steve Ballmer, retired CEO of Microsoft and owner of the Los Angeles Clippers; donated $15,300 since 2013, including $10,000 in January</li><li>Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook; donated $35,700</li><li>The late Steve Jobs, former CEO of Apple; donated $50,000 in 2010, while his wife Laurene Powell Jobs has contributed $55,300.</li><li>Elon Musk, head of Tesla and SpaceX; has contributed $55,300 since 2013</li></ul><p>Julie Samuels, executive director of tech lobby group Engine, said that for a long time the tech industry didn&rsquo;t want to engage in politics, but has become more comfortable interacting with candidates.</p><p>&ldquo;I think you&rsquo;re seeing them get involved because the industry is maturing,&rdquo; Samuels said.</p><blockquote><p><strong>Search Chicago poltical donations with our <a href="http://interactive.wbez.org/campaigncash/">Campaign Finance Tracker</a></strong></p></blockquote><p>What&rsquo;s unusual in Emanuel&rsquo;s case is that most heads of global tech companies don&rsquo;t involve themselves with local elections.</p><p>According to <a href="http://www.followthemoney.org/entity-details?eid=785381&amp;default=contributor">FollowTheMoney.org, Schmidt has contributed $888,055 to 53 different campaigns</a>, but Emanuel is the only mayoral candidate on that list. The same is true for Ballmer and Musk.</p><p>Facebook&rsquo;s Sandberg has backed two other mayoral candidates; Adrian Fenty in Washington, D.C., and Christine Quinn in New York. Both lost in primaries.</p><p>Chicago&rsquo;s tech community has been <a href="http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20150331/BLOGS11/150339968/chicago-techies-rally-round-emanuel">very vocal</a> in its support for Emanuel, especially since the Feb. 24 election when challenger Jesus &ldquo;Chuy&rdquo; Garcia pushed the mayor into a runoff.</p><p>The tech sector&rsquo;s share of Emanuel&rsquo;s overall war chest is relatively small. Emanuel has raised more than $40 million for associated campaign committees since he started running for mayor in 2010.</p><p>Emanuel has raised a little more than $1 million from the tech world, according to an analysis of data from the Illinois State Board of Elections.</p><p>The Center for Responsive Politics tracks the tech community&rsquo;s donations at the federal level. According to research director Sarah Bryner, $1 million for a single candidate is exceptional.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a lot of money,&rdquo; said Bryner of the Washington-based campaign finance watchdog group. &ldquo;Just as point of comparison, the top candidate receiving money from this industry in our books was Corey Booker, who took in $405,000 for a Senate race.&rdquo;</p><p>Bryner says Silicon Valley&rsquo;s political involvement in Chicago is a natural evolution from its growing political savvy at the federal level. That&rsquo;s especially true of companies like Google and since President Barack Obama has come on the scene. Much of that involvement has also come from Obama&rsquo;s efforts to cultivate relationships with the tech community.</p><p>Engine&rsquo;s Julie Samuels says Mayor Emanuel has now also tapped into those relationships with Silicon Valley, which go back to his time in the Clinton administration.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think you&rsquo;ll see people getting involved in the race over a random alderman or some other local position,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s something specific to this particular mayor, this particular moment.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, Samuels expects to see more tech companies getting involved in state and local politics because many issues, especially those involving sharing economy companies like Uber and AirBnB, are first hashed out in cities and states. (WBEZ&rsquo;s research shows that neither Uber nor AirBnB executives or the companies themselves donated to Emanuel or Garcia&rsquo;s campaigns.)</p><p>&ldquo;So much regulation that affects these companies happens at the local level,&rdquo; Samuels said. &ldquo;These companies &mdash; even when they&rsquo;re not based in Chicago &mdash; they play a huge role in our lives.&rdquo;</p><p>While national figures have more name recognition, some of the largest dollar figures have come from Chicago tech companies.</p><p>Groupon CEO Eric Lefkofsky gave more than $400,000 to Emanuel&rsquo;s campaign. A Groupon spokesman said Lefkofsky was traveling and was unable to comment.</p><p>Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker donated $167,000, while Morningstar CEO Joe Mansueto added $160,000.</p><p>1871 CEO Howard Tullman, who has donated $5,300, dismissed notions that campaign contributions to Emanuel meant more access.</p><p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t think people who contribute to him think they are buying much of anything,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;He is independent and objective and tells it like it is.&rdquo;</p><p>Tullman has known Emanuel for decades. He says he supports Emanuel because he feels the mayor understands and advocates for the tech industry. He points to job growth within the Merchandise Mart &mdash; especially Motorola Mobility &mdash; as proof.</p><p>&ldquo;Motorola had a chance to go to Sunnyvale [California] or Chicago. That was a lot of lobbying by Rahm and other city leaders to retain them and that&rsquo;s thousands of jobs. Ultimately he&rsquo;s been really good for that,&rdquo; Tullman said.</p><p>With those gains, leaders in Chicago&rsquo;s tech industry want to avoid any possibility of breaking that momentum</p><p>&ldquo;I would really hate to take three steps back and say why don&rsquo;t we give somebody a trial or learn on the job and learn how to do this?&rdquo; Tullman said.</p><p><a href="https://twitter.com/chrishagan"><em>Chris Hagan</em></a><em> is a WBEZ web producer. </em><a href="https://twitter.com/nialaboodhoo"><em>Niala Boodhoo</em></a><em> is host of WBEZ&rsquo;s Afternoon Shift.</em></p></p> Thu, 02 Apr 2015 15:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/emanuel-backed-techs-most-powerful-players-111814 Is biking in Chicago a risky proposition? http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/biking-chicago-risky-proposition-108762 <p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37"><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F112494856" width="100%"></iframe>Motti Pikelny would fall in the group of people who are maybe less averse to risk than others. He used to pilot glider planes in competitions. Yet, the Oak Park resident won&rsquo;t commute to work by bicycle because he </span><em>thinks</em> it&rsquo;s too risky.</p><p>So, Pikelny turned to Curious City with this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>How dangerous is it to bicycle commute in the city?</em></p><p>Pikelny would like to commute by bike for economical and environmental reasons. In fact, he has competed in century rides &mdash; 100-mile bike races &mdash; when he lived in Oregon. But the safety factor stops him from pedaling to work.</p><p>He wanted us to approach the question from a statistical viewpoint. He wanted to know the dangers of biking in Chicago as compared to other modes of transportation (i.e., motorcycles) or recreational activities (i.e., skydiving).</p><p>We talked to a lot of experts, all of whom said the same thing: This question is impossible to answer, but they all gave different reasons for why. Some say there&rsquo;s not enough data. Others argue quantifying danger is subjective. Along the way, we learned how the decision to bike or not bike can be a heavy one &mdash; with or without key stats to help.</p><p><strong><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">There are data, but are they the </span><em>right</em> data?</strong></p><p>Many municipalities, including Chicago, as well as the state of Illinois, record bike injuries and deaths involving crashes with motor vehicles. In April 2010, the city of Chicago began tracking &ldquo;dooring&rdquo; incidents (fatal and non-fatal), as well. That&rsquo;s when a driver or passenger opens a car door in the pathway of a biker and a crash occurs.</p><p>Here&rsquo;s some recent data from the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding bike injuries and deaths involving crashes with cars in Chicago.</p><ul dir="ltr"><li>2011: 1,302 bike injuries and seven deaths</li><li>2010: 1,583 bike injuries and five deaths</li><li><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">2009: 1,402 bike injuries and six deaths.</span></li></ul><p>In 2011, there were 336 dooring crashes in Chicago.</p><p>This kind of data is important but it doesn&rsquo;t go far enough, said Jen Duthie, a researcher at the University of Texas Center for Transportation Research. Duthie is a bike commuter and gathers bike data.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">What&rsquo;s unknown is the number of bikers on the road and how far they travel, said Steven Vance, author of </span><a href="http://chi.streetsblog.org/">Chicago Streetsblog</a>, a bike advocate and local data wizard.</p><p>Also, no data are collected on pedestrian-versus-bike crashes in Chicago or incidents where bikers collide with other cyclists.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m more scared of hitting a pedestrian on the phone than getting doored,&rdquo; said Thea Lux, a Groupon employee who commutes daily during the summer months.</p><p>Often, Lux said, people are talking on a cell phone and not paying attention as they walk into intersections.</p><p>Researchers and policy makers can make generalizations about biking danger on a per capita basis by looking at the number of crashes that occur and Chicago&rsquo;s population. But it&rsquo;s not an accurate reflection of bike safety here. Vance said it&rsquo;s impossible to say how likely a person is to crash on their bike.</p><p>Plus, Duthie added, near misses are not recorded, even though avoided crashes shape opinions on whether biking in Chicago is safe.</p><p><strong>When data don&rsquo;t help</strong></p><p>&ldquo;In my personal experience, it&rsquo;s slightly dangerous but mostly harrowing mentally,&rdquo; Vance said of biking in Chicago. &ldquo;The likelihood that you&rsquo;ll get into a crash, I believe, is quite low but I don&rsquo;t have data to prove that.&rdquo;</p><p>Harrowing, that is, because of all the near misses that scare bikers.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/TouringCyclist.jpg" style="float: right; height: 324px; width: 370px;" title="Bike infrastructure may be placed in areas that are most convenient instead of areas that are most dangerous to bikers, suspects Steven Vance. (Flickr/TouringCyclist)" /></p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">Vance launched a blog in May called </span>Close Calls, which allows Chicagoans to record their near-crash biking experiences.</p><p>But Vance, ultimately, doesn&rsquo;t care how dangerous it is to bike in Chicago. Unlike Pikelny, he&rsquo;s already decided to commute by bike. That&rsquo;s not a question, in his mind, at least. What&rsquo;s more important to Vance is identifying specific intersections or stretches of roads that are the most dangerous &nbsp;&mdash; and fixing them.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">His other outlet, </span>Chicago Streets Blog, pre-ordered a counter to track the number of cars and bikes passing through certain intersections. The city tracks that information in some cases, but he says his blog purchased the counter because the city wasn&rsquo;t getting him the data when he asked for it.</p><p>Vance wants to make the data available to the public, with the ultimate goal being to identify the most dangerous intersections and stretches of road in Chicago. He finds that bike infrastructure is often constructed in areas that are convenient, but not necessarily areas that bikers consider the most dangerous.</p><p>But even with all the bike data in the world, determining danger &mdash; or in this case, risk &mdash; is still impossible.</p><p><span id="docs-internal-guid-73d020ab-55e7-a788-5dcc-18e53bee6a37">David Ropeik, instructor at Harvard and author of </span>How Risky Is It Really: Why Our Fears Don&rsquo;t Always Match Our Facts, says risk is subjective.</p><p>&ldquo;We delude ourselves about some risk that is higher than they actually feel by saying, well, my general feeling about this from my experience, from what I&#39;ve heard and read is that this won&#39;t happen to me,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>What that means is that biking in Chicago may seem dangerous to one person but may seem less to another.</p><p>And sometimes impressions change.</p><p><strong>What once seemed safe</strong></p><p>Catherine Bullard never thought that biking in Chicago could be fatal.</p><p>That was before Bullard, a biker, received an urgent Facebook message late one night from her boyfriend&rsquo;s roommate. It said please call when you can.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/2953269838_fc23f067a8_z.jpg" style="float: left; height: 241px; width: 360px;" title="This is an example of a ghost bike, which memorializes bikers who have died on the road. (Flickr/rocketlass)" />&ldquo;Without even thinking about it I knew that Bobby had been in a cycling accident, but I didn&rsquo;t think for a second that he was dead,&rdquo; said Bullard, who recounted her story to us while standing near the intersection of Larrabee Street and Clybourn Avenue &mdash; the same spot where her boyfriend, Bobby Cann, died biking home from Groupon where he worked. Cann, Bullard said, was an avid, safe cyclist.</p><p>Cann was struck around 6:30 p.m. by a driver who was allegedly drunk at the wheel. Cann was wearing a helmet.</p><p>&ldquo;He was so, so safe,&rdquo; Bullard said. &ldquo;He knew hand signals I didn&rsquo;t even know.&rdquo;</p><p>Bullard hasn&rsquo;t biked to work since Cann&rsquo;s death. She&rsquo;s conflicted about biking now. She never used to worry about getting hurt on a bike.</p><p>Now she wonders: How is it that something that once seemed safe &mdash; especially for those who followed all the rules &mdash; now doesn&rsquo;t?</p><p>She wants to get back on the road. And she will. She&rsquo;s determined. Except, for now, biking just seems too risky.</p><p>&ldquo;Part of it is being afraid of what might happen, which I hate,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;I hate that that is an impulse of mine and he would hate it, too.&rdquo;</p><p><strong>Perspective from a biking community</strong></p><p>Again, the hard comparative data that our questioner Motti Pikelny wanted isn&rsquo;t available, so we reached out to riders to get qualitative perspectives. The goal was to get some perspective from bikers on the ground. What do they see? What do they experience? Riders we spoke with agree that Chicago is becoming more bike-friendly in the sense that biking is gaining a higher profile and the city&rsquo;s adding new bike lanes.</p><p>We found one particularly interesting set of riders at the Chicago headquarters of Groupon, the daily deals service. The office, located on the near North Side, has a robust biking community; among other things, it&rsquo;s a regular participant in the annual Bike To Work week. According to the &nbsp;Active Transportation Alliance, the event last year had 7,000 participants citywide.</p><p>As Groupon editor Sandy Kofler told us, just several years ago she was nervous about riding her bike on some downtown streets &mdash; enough that she would put her bike on the train, ride one stop, and then get off and resume her ride.</p><p>The addition of bike lanes since then has helped a lot, she said.</p><p>Today Kofler bikes to work, taking one of two routes to work from her home in Humboldt Park; the one she frequently rides has fewer bike lanes than the other, but at least she can avoid having to make two scary left turns.</p><p>When it comes to biking in Chicago, she said, &ldquo;The safe ways are safe but they take longer.&rdquo;</p><p>To get even more perspective, we recently solicited volunteers from Groupon to&nbsp;<a href="#GrouponLogs">log their bike routes</a> for three days. Consider these logs as anecdotes of what its like to pedal in the bike lane &hellip; or in some cases, the shoulder of the road.</p><p><strong>The takeaway</strong></p><p>I reported my findings &mdash; the limited data, the wealth of anecdotes &mdash; back to Pikelny, who wasn&#39;t that surprised that there&rsquo;s no answer to his question. It is, after all, what he suspected after he finished his own surface research.</p><p>That being said, though, he hopes for better data collection in the future. That would be good, he said, for him as well as others who are contemplating whether to bike commute at all. And that would be helpful, too, for people like Bullard, who could at least lean on firm data to help decide whether to put her feet back on the pedals.</p><p><em>Chelsi Moy is a Curious City intern. Follow her <a href="https://twitter.com/chelsimoy" target="_blank">@chelsimoy</a>.</em></p><p><a name="bike logs"></a><a name="GrouponLogs"></a><font color="#04B4A"><strong>*Click on a person to view his/her bike log.</strong></font></p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="1300" scrolling="no" src="http://s3.amazonaws.com/wbez-assets/INTERACTIVE+DATA+PUBLISHING/2013+Projects/September/Bike+Safety/BIKE+CODE+4.html" width="620"></iframe></p><p><em>Correction: A caption misspelled the name of a Chicago blogger and developer. The correct spelling is Steven Vance.&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 25 Sep 2013 11:13:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/biking-chicago-risky-proposition-108762 Morning Shift: New book offers lessons on surviving infidelity http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-02/morning-shift-new-book-offers-lessons-surviving <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/Noel_Shush -courtesy of ashleymadison.com_.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Cheating can be a devastating blow to not just your relationship, but your ego as well. How do you pick up the pieces and move on? Also, with the digital age upon us, how do news organizations keep up with the times?&nbsp;</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-surviving-infidelity.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-surviving-infidelity" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: New book offers lessons on surviving infidelity" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Tue, 02 Jul 2013 10:05:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-02/morning-shift-new-book-offers-lessons-surviving Struggling Groupon says it ousted CEO Andrew Mason http://www.wbez.org/news/struggling-groupon-says-it-ousted-ceo-andrew-mason-105826 <p><p>Struggling online deals company Groupon fired founder and CEO Andrew Mason Thursday. Shares of the company, which had traded heavily during the day, jumped in after-hours trade following the announcement.</p><p>Company co-founder and current Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis were appointed to the Office of the Chief Executive on an interim basis.</p><p>&quot;Groupon will continue to invest in growth, and we are confident that with our deep management team and market-leading position, the company is well positioned for the future,&quot; Leonsis said in a statement.</p><p>Groupon said Mason was not available for interviews. But in a letter he released to employees and also via his Twitter account, Mason said he was fired (see full text of Mason&#39;s letter below).</p><p>&quot;If you&#39;re wondering why...you haven&#39;t been paying attention,&quot; Mason said in the letter.</p><p>Chicago-based Groupon reported a bigger-than-expected net loss of $81.1 million on Wednesday and provided a weak revenue outlook for the current quarter.</p><p>That net loss came despite an almost 30 percent increase in revenue.</p><p>In the letter, Mason said employees were doing &quot;amazing things&quot; at Groupon, and that he was getting in the way of that.</p><p>&quot;The board is aligned behind the strategy we&#39;ve shared over the last few months, and I&#39;ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company,&quot; he wrote. &quot;It&#39;s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.&quot;</p><p>The move had been anticipated for some time.</p><p>Barrington Research Senior Analyst Jeff Houston said it is typical of Internet startups to transition to other management as the company grows bigger.</p><p>&quot;I think it&rsquo;s always an advantage to keep the founder around in some capacity, but I don&rsquo;t think CEO was right role for him, and I think it&rsquo;s a good move to bring in a professional manager,&quot; Houston said.</p><p>Still, analysts, including Houston, have named not just management, but the company&#39;s inability to provide correct market guidance as among its main problems.</p><p>Groupon, which went public in November 2011, makes money by taking a cut from the online deals it offers on a variety of goods and services. Investors have questioned whether that business model is sustainable and leads to growth over the long term &mdash; and whether the company can not only grow its customer base but make more from each subscriber.</p><p>Groupon has the advantage of being first. This has meant brand recognition and investor demand, as evidenced by its strong public debut. But the model is easy to replicate. It has spawned many copycats after its 2008 launch, from startups such as LivingSocial to established companies such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Chicago-based Groupon also has faced scrutiny about its high marketing expenses, enormous employee base and the way it accounted for revenue.</p><p>Groupon&#39;s stock has lost about 77 percent of its value since the IPO after losing $1.45, or 24 percent, to close Thursday at $4.53. After the announcement of Mason&#39;s ouster, the stock gained 4 percent in after-hours trading following the announcement.</p><p><strong>Full text of Mason&#39;s letter to employees below: </strong></p><p>(This is for Groupon employees, but I&#39;m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)</p><p>People of Groupon,</p><p>After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I&#39;ve decided that I&#39;d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you&#39;re wondering why... you haven&#39;t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that&#39;s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.<br />You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I&#39;m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we&#39;ve shared over the last few months, and I&#39;ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it&#39;s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.</p><p>For those who are concerned about me, please don&#39;t be - I love Groupon, and I&#39;m terribly proud of what we&#39;ve created. I&#39;m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I&#39;ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I&#39;m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I&#39;ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.</p><p>If there&#39;s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what&#39;s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don&#39;t waste the opportunity!</p><p>I will miss you terribly.</p><p>Love,<br />Andrew</p></p> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 16:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/struggling-groupon-says-it-ousted-ceo-andrew-mason-105826 Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley give Groupon lukewarm ratings http://www.wbez.org/story/credit-suisse-morgan-stanley-give-groupon-lukewarm-ratings-94950 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-December/2011-12-15/5981781575_ed3fd15f8e.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The investment banks that sold Groupon’s initial public offering have published their research reports on the stock, and their views of its future are mixed.<br> <br> Credit Suisse, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley managed Groupon’s IPO, when the Chicago-based daily deal company sold shares to the public for $20 each in early November. Usually banks that lead an IPO are more inclined to issue favorable ratings. But two of the three – Morgan Stanley and Credit Suisse – gave the stock lukewarm ratings.<br> <br> Credit Suisse analysts rated Groupon "neutral." They said Groupon is tapping into a big market for local advertising and has the advantage of being number one. But the bank also cautioned that Groupon is “ a new company with a new business model in a competitive market.”<br> <br> Behemoths like Google and Amazon now offer daily deals, as well as companies like Living Social that focus solely on the space.<br> <br> Morgan Stanley’s analysts advised their clients to wait for the stock to fall before buying a lot of shares. They rated the stock "equal-weight." Morgan Stanley cautioned that competitors "may not be as motivated by near-term profitability," which means they can undercut Groupon's prices, forcing Groupon to either charge merchants less or risk losing business.<br> <br> But Goldman Sachs rated the shares a “buy.” The bank said the advantages of scale outweigh the challenges Groupon faces.</p></p> Thu, 15 Dec 2011 21:35:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/credit-suisse-morgan-stanley-give-groupon-lukewarm-ratings-94950 Daily Rehearsal: Chicago theaters honor Maggie Daley http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-28/daily-rehearsal-chicago-theaters-honor-maggie-daley-94391 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-October/2011-10-04/IMG_0080.JPG" alt="" /><p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>1.&nbsp;Former first lady of Chicago, Maggie Daley, <a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/maggie-daley-dies-94357">died on Thanksgiving</a>.</strong></span></span> She was renowned for her tireless support of the arts and in honor of her legacy, theaters across Chicago honored her Sunday by turning off their lights for two minutes at noon. They then kept their lights on throughout the city for the duration of her wake, which ended at 10 pm. The event, which was organized by the League of Chicago Theatres, was primarily applicable to the larger, marquee theaters downtown, but other participants, including theaters on the North Side like Steppenwolf and Second City, did the same.&nbsp;Both Deb Clapp, Executive Director of the League and Eileen LaCario, Chair and VP of Broadway in Chicago, released statements expressing their sadness on behalf of the Chicago theater community.</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>2.&nbsp;Ebenezer Scrooge is back on Twitter</strong></span></span> -- that is, the Ebenezer in residence at the Goodman.<a href="http://www.wbez.org/blog/city-room-blog/scrooge-r-us-christmas-carol-still-relevant">&nbsp;Reread Kelly Kleiman's comments</a>&nbsp;from last holiday season on whether&nbsp;<em>A Christmas Carol</em>&nbsp;is even culturally relvevant in today's modern times. She wrote about the Scrooge Twitter account and the positive and negative responses to it, but said, "For those of us a bit less serious about our encounters with comic promotional efforts, Scrooge’s comments bring tidings of great joy to all people." No matter what your opinion, you can't say he's not topical;&nbsp;<a href="https://twitter.com/#%21/GoodmanTheatre/status/141190103270821888">Scrooge's latest</a>&nbsp;touches on the Occupy movement.</p><p><img alt="" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-28/grouponUP.jpg" style="margin-right: 10px; margin-top: 10px; margin-bottom: 10px; float: left; width: 300px; height: 196px;" title=""><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>3. There's a <a href="http://www.groupon.com/deals/gl-second-city">Groupon for Second City's UP</a></strong></span></span>. What are the odds that a Grouponer who works or takes classes there actually wrote it? Come forward if it was you, uncredited copy slave! Anyway, the deal is half off on two tickets, and isn't valid for the New Years show. Also: "Every show is rated for appropriate audiences, letting parents know when to bring the kids to fine-tune their funny bones, and when to bring pet parrots to update their repertoire."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>4. More best bets of holiday theater</strong></span></span>, this set from <a href="http://chicagolikealocal.com/2011/11/21/best-bets-for-holiday-theatre-in-chicago/#more-2315">Bob Bullen via Chicago Like A Local</a>. He vouches for<em> A Klingon Christmas Carol</em> at Greenhouse, dubbing it "Klingon Kabuki theatre."</p><p><span style="font-size: 14px;"><span style="font-family: georgia,serif;"><strong>5. The <a href="http://www.redeyechicago.com/redeye-7-chicago-comedians-to-watch-in-2012-20111122,0,3492788.photogallery">RedEye lists their comedy acts</a> to watch</strong></span></span> for the coming new year. Some older faces (Cameron Esposito, Brian Babylon) with some new ones (Ever Mainard, Seth and Kellen). Vote your least favorite off the island, it's a contest (no, it's really not, support everyone).&nbsp;</p><p>Questions? Tips? Email <a href="mailto:kdries@wbez.org">kdries@wbez.org</a>.</p></p> Mon, 28 Nov 2011 16:18:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/blog/onstagebackstage/2011-11-28/daily-rehearsal-chicago-theaters-honor-maggie-daley-94391 Google offers daily deals in Chicago http://www.wbez.org/story/google-offers-daily-deals-chicago-93911 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-09/6166710591_f85f76acd1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Google is stepping in on Groupon's hometown.&nbsp;The online search engine is offering daily deals for the first time in Chicago Wednesday.</p><p>It's calling the program Google Offers. The company kicks off its daily deals with $20 worth of drinks and food for half the price at Goose Island in Wrigleyville.&nbsp;Google first launched its own online coupon program this past spring in Portland, Oregon. The move came after Groupon rejected Google's bid to acquire the original online coupon company.</p><p>Sucharita Mulpuru is an analyst with Forrester Research.</p><p>"I don't think that I'd be quaking in my boots if I were Groupon," she said. "They've had lots of competition in Chicago. They've had many other players set up shop there. The reality is that Groupon has a pretty sizeable lead among the daily deals players."</p><p>Mulpuru said Groupon has its own issues to work out like adding value to the company and growing its merchant and customer base independent of any competition.</p><p>Eric Rosenblum, the director of product management for Google Offers, said Google's daily deals are different because they will offer more variety in deals through different partnerships, but also by personalizing the way people receive the deals. Rosenblum said offers will be made through Google searches and maps and not just by email or mobile alerts.</p><p>On the merchant end, Rosenblum said Google is investing a lot in redemption tracking. The company is researching how many customers return to the business and how much they spend while they're there.</p></p> Wed, 09 Nov 2011 21:24:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/google-offers-daily-deals-chicago-93911 Groupon stock soars on first day http://www.wbez.org/story/groupon-stock-soars-first-day-93781 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-05/RS378_Groupon Getty Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Groupon's stock sizzled in its public debut Friday despite concerns about its accounting practices ahead of an initial public offering and doubts about the viability of its business model.</p><p>Groupon ended the day up 31 percent from its starting price. That means it would cost a trader more than $26 for a single share of the daily deal website. &nbsp;At one point during the day, the stock traded at $31 per share.</p><p>Groupon launched its initial public offering on the NASDAQ exchange with an opening price of $20 per share, and some analysts were expecting the price to close between $16 and $18 per share at the end of trading.</p><p>"The conventional wisdom was that Groupon was an unsustainable business so the demand was a little bit of a surprise," said Greg Sterling, who analyzes the finances of web-based companies.</p><p>But not even a gain of about $4 billion in market value — to nearly $17 billion — could erase lingering questions about its long-term prospects. Groupon has faced scrutiny over its high marketing expenses and large workforce. Plus, there are now several competitors with similar products.</p><p>Sterling said it's hard to say how Groupon will fare on the stock market in the future since the company had a bumpy road to go public in the first place.</p><div><div><strong>Groupon breaks ice for others</strong><p>Bigger than IPOs for Internet radio company Pandora Inc. and professional network LinkedIn Corp., Groupon's debut served as an icebreaker for a frozen IPO market.</p><p>It further sets the stage for the public debut of online game company Zynga Inc., which is expected in the next few weeks. It'll culminate next year, with the expected IPO of Facebook, one dwarfing them all.</p><p>Still, analysts remain worried about the risks concerning the company, especially as the stock price increases.</p><p>"Until investors see the full profit model unfold over time, expect this stock to be highly volatile," said Kathleen Shelton Smith, principal of Renaissance Capital, which operates IPOhome.com. "The first day of trading is typically more about supply and demand. Fundamentals will take over in the long run."</p><p>Groupon makes money by sending out frequent emails to subscribers offering a chance to buy discount deals for anything from laser hair removal to weekend getaways. The company takes a cut of what people pay and gives the rest to the merchant.</p><p>Because the model is easy to replicate, it has spawned many copycats after its 2008 launch, from startups such as LivingSocial to established companies such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. (which incidentally runs its deals through LivingSocial).</p><p>Groupon has the advantage of being first. This has meant brand recognition and investor demand, as evidenced by its strong public debut.</p><p>Nonetheless, Chicago-based Groupon Inc. has faced scrutiny about its high marketing expenses, enormous employee base and the way it accounted for revenue.</p><p>Groupon splits the money it collects from customers with merchants. But it reported all of its gross billings, not just the money it gets to keep, as revenue. After federal regulators questioned it, Groupon submitted new documents in September that showed that net revenue in the first half of this year was about half of what it originally reported.</p><p>Using the new accounting method, Groupon had revenue of $1.12 billion in the first nine months of the year. But it lost $308 million because of high operating expenses. The company spent $1.18 billion on such things as marketing to acquire new subscribers and running its business. Groupon went from 37 employees in June 2009 to 10,418 as of Sept. 30 this year.</p><p>By contrast, Google had revenue of $1.35 billion and net income of $143 million in the first six months of 2004 before going public that August. Other than its most recent quarter, LinkedIn has been profitable since last year.</p><p><strong>A second Internet bubble?</strong></p><p>For some longtime IPO watchers, Groupon's ascent is reminiscent of the late 1990s tech boom — and bust.</p><p>One reason for that is its low "float," meaning Groupon is selling just 5.5 percent of its available shares. Though not unprecedented, the amount is below that of many prominent tech companies, such as Google (7.2 percent), Amazon (12.6 percent) and LinkedIn (8.2 percent).</p><p>"The retail investors buying the stock, I don't think they were around in the 2000 dot-com bust. I don't think they have a historical perspective of what happens over time," said Francis Gaskins, president of IPOdesktop.com. "They are buying based on emotion."</p><p>There's pent-up demand not just for tech IPOs, but IPOs in general, especially from U.S. companies, said Josef Schuster, CEO and founder of IPOX Schuster, an investment firm that specializes in IPOs. And the pre-Thanksgiving offering was good timing for Groupon because it will benefit from the holiday shopping period, he added.</p><p>Still, he believes it's a risky investment in the long run.</p><p>"Groupon fits very well into a late 1990s IPO," he said, citing its low float, which helped drive up demand on opening day.</p><p>Thursday's pricing gave Groupon a market value of $12.7 billion, below only Google's among tech company IPOs. With Friday's stock price jump, Groupon's value rose to $16.58 billion.</p><p><strong>Despite competition, Groupon still holds 'first-mover' advantages</strong></p></div><div>Though critics abound, not everyone believes Groupon is a disaster waiting to happen.</div><div><p>"They have a real business. They can really make money. They have a really large first-mover advantage," Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said. "The downside is that it's not hard to do what they do."</p><p>Still, he said, the fact that Google tried to buy them — in a $6 billion deal that Groupon rejected — instead of doing a deals business of its own should account for something (Google eventually started its own deals service called Offers). Amazon's deals service, meanwhile, are powered by LivingSocial, Groupon's smaller rival in which Amazon owns a stake. Facebook tried its hand at deals but killed it off in August after four months of testing.</p><p>Pachter sees some similarities between Google, a first-mover in the online search market, and Groupon. There have been a lot of online search copycats but Google remains king. And there are opportunities for Groupon, such as targeting its deals beyond geography, based on people's interests and demographic profiles.</p><p>Another Internet darling, professional networking service LinkedIn, saw its stock soar to $122.70 on its opening day in May after pricing at $45. It's back up now, at $82 — a possible pattern for Groupon in the coming months.</p><p>"I don't think from today's trading we can actually say what the long-term value of the company is," Pachter said. "Let's see what they do with the cash."</p></div></div><div>&nbsp;</div></p> Sat, 05 Nov 2011 22:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/groupon-stock-soars-first-day-93781 Groupon makes plans to to go public, again http://www.wbez.org/story/groupon-makes-plans-go-public-again-92046 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//story/photo/2011-September/2011-09-15/groupon site.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Chicago-based company Groupon, Inc. is back on the path to going public. <a href="http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/09/14/groupon-back-on-track-for-its-i-p-o/?ref=business"><em>The New York Times</em> reports</a> the company will file for an I.P.O. by the end of October or early November.</p><p>Rick Summer, an analyst with Morningstar who follows the daily deals website,&nbsp;called Groupon a company that is "trying to make their own rules" through an unorthodox approach.</p><p>"There are so many risks, still, around just the daily deals space in general, but also in particular around Groupon," said Summer. "What does the business model look like? How do you end up pricing it? Is this even a viable business long-term? Those are questions that really haven't been answered in advance of the offering."</p><p>Summer said he's not surprised by Groupon's decision to postpone going public; the volatile market has made it difficult for other companies to do the same.</p><p>"Facebook could have easily gone public this year...and by all accounts it seems they're a profitable business, but they continue to delay until they reach different levels of maturity and different milestones" explained Summer. "So it's a very interesting contrast with what Groupon is doing, which is an unproven business that is rushing as quickly as they can to go public, versus Facebook, which is attempting to really mature the business, and really have a clear view of what the business is before they actually go public."</p><p>A representative from the company did not return calls for comment.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 15 Sep 2011 19:37:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/groupon-makes-plans-go-public-again-92046 Groupon's quarterly results show slowing sales growth http://www.wbez.org/story/groupons-quarterly-results-show-slowing-sales-growth-90365 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//Groupon Getty Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>The daily deal web site Groupon says its sales continued growing in the second quarter, but the rate of growth has slowed.<br> <br> People have been closely watching Groupon’s financial results as the company gets ready to sell shares to the public. Groupon said second-quarter sales grew 36 percent from the first quarter. That sounds good, but the difference is that last year, sales were doubling every quarter.<br> <br> And Internet analyst Greg Sterling says he’s concerned the company is spending too much on marketing.<br> <br> "The biggest worry is the cost of customer acquisition," Sterling said. "They have to keep spending money, lots and lots of money to market themselves."<br> <br> Groupon says its second-quarter loss was about the same as in the first quarter – showing that it spent less money on marketing. But Sterling says, especially with the recent volatility on Wall Street, investors will probably be a little more leery of Groupon’s IPO.<br> &nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 10 Aug 2011 16:35:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/groupons-quarterly-results-show-slowing-sales-growth-90365