Groupon roundup: sales rep fired, partner network launched, Piper upbeat

|By:, SA News Editor

Groupon (GRPN -1.1%) has fired a sales rep who ignited a firestorm by sending an e-mail that passive-aggressively threatened a restaurant owner who hung up on him with negative Yelp (YELP -1.8%) reviews from friends.

Yelp has long contended with complaints its reviews are prone to manipulation, both via positive reviews from business owners (or those paid by them) and negative reviews from rival businesses.

The company has tried to address the issue by investigating complaints, tagging local businesses found guilty of deceitful practices, and using an algorithm to filter questionable/low-quality reviews.

The firing comes as Groupon launches a partner network to handle its ongoing affiliate marketing deals with 3rd-party sites/apps. 10K content publishers spread across 34 countries are supported.

VP Sean Smyth asserts Groupon offers promoted via affiliate marketing have higher conversion rates than other approaches (e-mail, mobile notifications, etc.), and thinks a formal network will help with international distribution. The company eventually wants hundreds of thousands of sites to be covered.

More bullish comments from Piper's Gene Munster: a July Piper survey found 65% of those who had bought a Groupon planned on making another purchase.