Tour Groupon, The Funniest Startup We’ve Ever Been To (PHOTO TOUR)

Groupon tour slide

It’s nice to see that Groupon hasn’t lost its sense of humour, despite massive growth in every sense — employees, revenue, worth, and public awareness.

Cofounder and CEO Andrew Mason is still quick to crack a joke whenever he can, and as you’ll see in our photo tour, Groupon’s comedy writers and improv actors still seem to have a firm hold on the company’s culture.

So what’s Groupon been up to since we last visited their office about a year ago? (Besides reportedly attracting acquisition interest from Google… Mason refused to deny that the companies are in deal talks.)

Now that Groupon has thousands of employees (up from 140 a year ago), a huge number of customers and retail partners, and much stronger brand recognition, the company is starting to think about how it can tweak its product to take better advantage of all of its assets.

Part of that is already showing up: personalised deals and “Groupon Stores,” a self-service deal platform for merchants who don’t make the company’s main feed of deals. Mason promises there’s more to come, but wouldn’t reveal any specifics.

The company is also experiencing some infrastructure challenges as it continues to grow like a weed. With about 1,000 staffers now in its Chicago headquarters, it has outgrown the building, and now has to hold all-staff meetings and training sessions at a church down the street. But that’s, as they say, a good problem to have.

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title=”We start on the sixth floor of 600 W. Chicago Ave., west of Chicago’s downtown, in an old Montgomery Ward building”
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title=”Since we last visited, Groupon has moved its main office into a new floor of the building, complete with fancy frosted glass logos”
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title=”Reading material: The hilarious book “Awkward Family Photos,” and a Chicago Tribune supplement which ranks Groupon as the best medium-sized company to work at in Chicago”
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title=”There’s Groupon cofounder and CEO Andrew Mason’s recent Forbes cover in the middle, surrounded by magazine covers of famous dotcom meltdowns, like MySpace, Netscape, and AOL. This is how Mason keeps himself grounded.”
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title=”We’re greeted by Dani Hurt, who guards a book where every job applicant supposedly has to draw a self-portrait. (We didn’t find out about this until later!) Note the Groupon cat logo behind her.”
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title=”We catch up with Andrew Mason, who is watching a clip of this morning’s Groupon mention on Oprah”
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title=”Apparently Oprah’s mention, combined with a hot deal that day, has melted Groupon’s servers”
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title=”We join up with our tour guide, Groupon marketing and communications manager Julie Mossler, who is posing here with some artwork she picked up at Goodwill.”
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title=”Our first stop is “Michael’s room,” perhaps the funniest thing about Groupon. “Michael,” as the story goes, used to live in the Groupon office space before they moved in. The Groupon folks were kind enough to let him stay there. In reality, this seems to be a way for Groupon’s comedy writers to blow off some steam, maintaining this bizarre room for an imaginary hero. Let’s step inside.”
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title=”Michael’s room has wallpaper, a bed with burn marks, and lots of Cheerios boxes.”
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title=”There’s a TV with a copy of “Internet for Dummies” and a bunch of other junk…”
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title=”There’s an old iMac full of Van Halen MP3s…”
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title=”And there are digital photo frames of Andrew Mason. Weird! Let’s get out of here.”
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title=”Out here, a glimpse at some of the marketing and sales department”
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title=”Motivation! “We require infinite focus””
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[slide
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title=”Here’s a batch of new Groupon editorial workers. To make up for the fact that they don’t have much space right now, they have movies on all the time on that big-screen TV.”
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title=”Now we’re in a space lovingly called “Fight Club,” where some of the fixture work is unfinished. Groupon is primarily a local sales organisation, and this is part of the company’s massive sales force.”
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title=”Anna Barnett is part of the Kansas City sales team, for example”
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title=”Many of Groupon’s employees are growing moustaches for “Movember,” an annual charity event to raise money and awareness for men’s health”
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title=”Joel Hadley is part of the St. Louis sales team, and is trying very hard to grow a moustache”
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permalink=”fun-fact-this-part-of-groupons-office-used-to-be-a-test-kitchen-27″
title=”Fun fact: This part of Groupon’s office used to be a test kitchen”
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title=”Sales reps take a break”
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[slide
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title=”Across the river is a Chicago Tribune building, a big brick reminder of the newspaper classified industry that Groupon is helping to disrupt”
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[slide
permalink=”patti-cella-is-a-sales-rep-for-minneapolis-and-was-the-first-person-to-take-maternity-leave-at-groupon-30″
title=”Patti Cella is a sales rep for Minneapolis and was the first person to take maternity leave at Groupon”
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title=”Salespeople Chris Rosburg and Brittany Sandstrom”
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title=”We move to another part of the office, where the editorial team is working quietly”
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title=”Copy editors on the editorial team”
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title=”Customer praise and “praise” — mostly positive, actually”
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title=”Brandon Copple, former managing editor of Crain’s Chicago Business, now managing editor of Groupon”
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title=”Cullen Crawford, a core humour writer, and good friend of Michael, the imaginary office friend (according to our source, “acts as his handler when Michael has media requests or is out of town”)”
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title=”Josh Petuchowski, sales rep for Albany, closes a huge deal for waxing (that’s what Groupon is all about, right?)”
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title=”A quick trip back into Groupon’s old office, which it shared with other companies, back when it was “The Point” — and before it pivoted into an e-commerce company”
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title=”Woman riding a bird with sword in the air: Groupon’s first try at a logo. (A joke, of course). The idea was to create a logo that was the least usable as possible for a business. (The pink sweater was only added later. You can figure out what was there before.)”
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title=”Andrew Graves, customer service rep who broke into song when we walked by — Michael Jackson’s “You are not alone.””
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title=”Groupon’s wall of headshots: Many of the customer service reps are improv actors, which is actually good training, because it encourages quick thinking and positive responses”
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title=”A look up close at a few headshots”
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title=”Groupon sponsored a music festival, and instead of being bland and corporate, it gave out weird buttons and covered porta-potties with messages like “Your impending relief, sponsored by Groupon””
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title=”Employees tried to randomly guess how many Groupons for Gap the company would sell — it came in at 441,000. Groupon says the winner was undetermined because they started erasing guesses so people could guess how many guesses would be written down.”
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title=”Lastly, here’s the fort, guarding part of the tech team that’s working on top-secret projects, and Andrew Mason’s desk”
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title=”In the rafters: A photo of Mason from college, brought in and hung up to celebrate his 30th birthday this past fall. Mason was reportedly mortified.”
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title=”And that’s about it! The Groupon cat sends us on our way…”
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title=”Want to see what Groupon HQ looked like 850 employees ago?”
content=”Click here for last year’s tour of Groupon’s old office! →
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