Groupon CEO Andrew Mason spoke in an on-stage interview with Kara Swisher at the All Things Digital D9 conference, where he had some interesting thing to say about the booming daily deals industry.
It's no secret that Groupon-like services have been coming out of the woodwork, and plenty of questions about the company's future remain. The main one would be: Can the Groupon remain the leader in this space?
Clearly it's fairly easy to launch some form of daily deals service - maybe not on the scale that Groupon has managed to achieve, but a service doesn't have to cater to such a scale to be successful. That's why so many niche versions of the daily deals service are popping up in locations all over the world. That's also why aggregation of deals is likely to become more important to consumers than any one deals service. Things like what PriceGrabber just launched, and location-based mobile offerings - like what Loopt is doing with Groupon Now Alerts, but if they had such alerts for a plethora of deals services, giving consumers lists of relevant deals based on their physical location.
Mason considers there to be three types of competitors (and Mason's comments throughout this article are as noted by All Things Digital): straight-up clones, sleeping giants, and the ones out of left field. Mason takes issues with the clones, saying that Groupon spent two years pivoting before it landed on its current model.
"We are proud of the idea in the way anyone would be if they invented something," he's quoted as saying. "All the clones were drafting everything we were doing. I was a music major, and with music, we call that plagiarism. But in business it’s called competition."
Later, he added, "competition is good for the consumer," "innovation is good for the space, " and “As along as we make a product that people love more than anything else, we’ll be successful.”
Swisher prodded him about turning down Google's offer to buy the Groupon, but he just said Groupon is happy as an independent company. He did make a joke at Google's expense, with regards to Google's new Groupon competitor Google Offers, saying "What they really did well is integration with Buzz," which evidently got big laughter from the audience.
On that note, Google launched its +1 button for websites yesterday, and many sites immediately replaced the Google Buzz buttons on their content, raising serious questions about the future of Buzz. Google Offers also officially launched this week, in Portland. Groupon is currently in 46 countries.
According to Mason, local commerce is a $12 $14 billion market, and if Groupon gets 10% of it, they'll be happy.