Cementing the perceived power of social buying, Groupon is reportedly preparing for an initial public offering as soon as mid-year. What's more, "The offering may value the company at $15 billion," a source tells Bloomberg. Just days ago, Groupon announced a $950 million round of funding, which was said to value the company at a measly $4.75 billion.
"The offering, which would also be among the most anticipated since Google's in 2004, would also represent the highest valuation of the company to date," according to DealBook.
"It wasn't long ago that we were talking about how insane the thought of a $2.5 billion acquisition would be for Groupon," notes The Next Web.
Analysts tell The New York Times tech blog that Groupon is likely moving quickly so as not to miss the current wave of excitement around certain startups.
"It's smart to strike while the iron is hot, and they're the most visible and fastest-growing player in their market," independent analyst Greg Sterling says. "To wait a year would inject a level of uncertainty for the proposition of going public."
That's not to say that Groupon's dizzying valuation is unwarranted, or signals another tech bubble -- or, at least, according to Federated Media founder John Battelle. "We're in an entirely different place, as an industry, than we were ten years ago," he writes. "If money losing companies with nothing but an idea and some VC backers manage to go public, I'll be the first to write a post about our collective amnesia."
Still, while it's presently the largest "coupon website" -- in the words of Bloomberg -- "Groupon faces mounting competition from rivals such as LivingSocial."
Google, which reportedly offered about $6 billion for Groupon last year, has also expressed a strong desire to compete in the social buying space.