Groupon Inc., owner of a daily coupon website with 20 million subscribers, is seeking venture funding that may value the company at about $3 billion, according to three people familiar with the matter.
The company aims to raise the funding to help it expand beyond the 230 markets where it now operates, said the people, who declined to be identified because the fundraising is private. The company had been discussing funding that would value it in the range of $2 billion to $3 billion, two of the people said.
Groupon, which plans to serve 300 cities by year’s end, sends daily coupons for one-time sales to a widening list of users. It could use funding to add sales staff who are needed to sign up local businesses, including nail salons, restaurants and coffee shops. An investment group led by Mail.ru Group Ltd. in April gave Groupon a valuation of about $1.3 billion.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if Groupon raised a large round of financing or might possibly be acquired in the upcoming months,” Nick Beim, general partner at venture capital firm Matrix Partners, said on Bloomberg TV’s “InsideTrack” with Deirdre Bolton. Matrix, based in Waltham, Massachusetts, isn’t a Groupon investor.
The growing popularity of Groupon has spurred sites to start their own coupon services. Rivals include LivingSocial and Groop Swoop. Groupon has raised a total of $170 million from investors, which include Facebook Inc. backer Accel Partners and New Enterprise Associates. Founded in November 2008, the Chicago-based company was profitable after about eight months, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mason told Bloomberg TV in July.
Groupon offers activate when a certain number of people sign up, a strategy that encourages subscribers to recommend the deals to friends. The coupons are for services as varied as teeth whitening, whale watching and attending sporting events.
Groupon has introduced consulting programs and seminars for merchants, who sometimes get overwhelmed with the flood of new business Groupon sends their way. The company is also releasing a mobile-phone application to help retailers track the thousands of customers who purchase deals, known as groupons, Vice President Mihir Shah said in an interview in October.
Julie Mossler, a spokeswoman for Groupon, didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.