By Brian Satterfield
Before its IPO last November, Groupon (GRPN) acquired 16 companies, 10 of which were competitors that expanded the daily deal heavyweight’s reach into regions such as South America, Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Having grown its coupon empire to cover most corners of the globe and established itself as the sector’s market leader, Groupon has since taken a broader approach to M&A, buying into areas that complement its core coupon business.
Since the capital infusion that accompanied its Nasdaq debut last November, Groupon has been on an acquisition spree. More than one-third of its total 25 deals have come in just the past five months. In fact, according to its recently filed annual report, the company completed six transactions in just the first two months of 2012. But with the exception of the purchase of Mertado in January, Groupon has strayed away from scooping up other daily websites, instead targeting businesses that allow the company to bolster its online community and commerce capabilities. More specifically, Groupon’s recent M&A moves have been primarily to obtain the startups’ expertise in information database development, search engine development, location-based technologies, merchant products and support, and transactional marketing.
Earlier this week, Groupon picked up San Francisco-based Ditto, the maker of an iPhone application that enables users to plan activities with friends based on their location. A Ditto blog post hinted that the deal was primarily geared toward Groupon’s need to add community features, the same rationale that likely drove the company’s purchase in February of online travel enthusiast community Uptake Networks. Groupon’s other post-IPO mobile play also came in February, when it reached for VC-backed Kima Labs, which developed an iPhone application that allowed consumers to make online purchases with their phones. That same month, the company made yet another e-commerce move when it took out online shopping recommendation software provider Adku.
It’s also worth noting that while Groupon has expanded its M&A strategy in terms of technology, its geographic focus has clearly shrunk. Eight of the nine companies it has acquired post-IPO have been based in the US.