Photo: Dan Frommer
Is Groupon’s business really slowing down?After parting with its COO at the end of last week, Groupon is looking for its third in the past six months.
It was only the latest bit of bad news for the hot Chicago-based startup that turned down a $6 billion offer from Google last year.
- Groupon has had to re-file its financials with the SEC twice now.
- It’s corporate communications boss quit after just a couple months on the job.
- Groupon second S1 seemed to indicate that the company’s growth in its biggest markets is already starting to slow.
- A LivingSocial salesperson told us that merchants are getting wise to Groupon and its competitors and have begun forcing them to offer consumers less attractive deals.
- A former salesperson has filed a “class-action” suit against Groupon complaining about long hours.
As they would say in politics, the “optics” are bad for Groupon right now.
But is this all just an unfair backlash?
After all, Google had to revise its S1 14 times.
One way to find out would be to ask Groupon sales people.
The closest we’ve been able to get to what Groupon employees think of the place is reading their reviews on employee-reviews site Glassdoor.com. The problem with Glassdoor.com, though, is that basically, only complainers go there. Happy employees don’t.
So instead of just aggregating Glassdoor reviews of Groupon, let’s read a few of them and try to interpret what they’re really saying…
- “Understand that selling Groupon is not as easy as it was 1-2 years ago. Employees are incentivized to structure deals that hurt businesses because it will help the employee hit their unrealistic GP goal and make them money. There are a lot of businesses that hate Groupon because of this and the # is only going up…” Translation: Groupon hasn’t had to cave on asking merchants to offer consumers great deals. But it’s getting harder.
- “Advice to senior management: [Take a] ‘deep dive’ into every top 40 market and really see which ones are still growing.” Translation: Groupon’s growth is going to come from outside major, established markets.
- “If you’re making a lot of phone calls and closing lots of contracts, you might get “promoted” to a top-10 market. And if you’re prepared to be hung-up on by 49 of the 50 merchants you speak with in a day, you might be able to slide a deal onto the page.” Translation: The problem in mature markets is that Groupon can only send out one offer a day. That’s why Groupon Now is so important.
- “Noisy call centre environment.” Translation: Sales people remain motivated and are working hard. They have plenty of untapped leads.
- “Move desks constantly and disrupts work.” Translation: Groupon is still hiring fast.
- “Goals are set in place that no one reach. They are firing people left and right for no good reason. Cut commissions and eliminated bonuses. Sales staff make about 80% less than they did 5 months ago.” Translation: These things do not sell themselves, and margins are tight enough that there’s little room for sales people who can’t hack it. These aren’t Google AdWords.
- “Very cut throat environment.” Translation: You only cut people’s throats if there’s something to gain from it. So there must be winners and losers at Groupon.
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