Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever: The Inside Story of How One Insane Gamble, Tons of Unbelievable Hype, and Millions of Wild Deals Made Billions for One Ballsy Joker

Overview

“It’s hard to overstate how big a year it was for Mr. Mason. His company went public, he became a billionaire, and the daily-coupon-deals phenomenon he pioneered has seemingly swept the nation.”

—-Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times DealBook, January 2, 2012

Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever is the exclusive, behind-the-scenes account of the incredible rise of discount coupon giant Groupon and the compelling story of its offbeat founder, Andrew Mason, as he created a juggernaut of ...

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Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever: The Inside Story of How One Insane Gamble, Tons of Unbelievable Hype, and Millions of Wild Deals Made Billions for One Ballsy Joker

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Overview

“It’s hard to overstate how big a year it was for Mr. Mason. His company went public, he became a billionaire, and the daily-coupon-deals phenomenon he pioneered has seemingly swept the nation.”

—-Andrew Ross Sorkin, The New York Times DealBook, January 2, 2012

Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever is the exclusive, behind-the-scenes account of the incredible rise of discount coupon giant Groupon and the compelling story of its offbeat founder, Andrew Mason, as he created a juggernaut of online commerce and ignited a consumer revolution that is disrupting how people shop all over the world.

Love him for saving you 50 percent on last night’s Indian dinner or hate him for cashing in big when he could be losing millions for merchants and investors alike, Mason—-Groupon’s thirtysomething founder and CEO—-made an incredible gamble when he turned down Google’s $6 billion buyout offer to go it alone. The experts thought he was insane. Groupon was little more than two years old and staffed from top to bottom with twentysomethings. The wild ride couldn’t last, but Mason thought otherwise, and with dreams of a potential IPO that could be massive, he liked his odds.

But did he make the right decision, or did he blow a chance to continue to grow “the fastest growing company in history”? Is Mason an Internet genius, or is he sitting on another bubble that could burst at any moment?

While everyone has an opinion on Groupon, Frank Sennett has written the only inside account. With exclusive access, interviews, and documents that no one outside of the company has seen or been able to report on, Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever has every twist and turn from start-up to IPO and is the real story of Mason’s audacious gamble and the meteoric rise of Groupon from start-up to $16.7 billion online giant.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

When Groupon was launched in September 2008, no Wall Street guru could have foreseen that it would become a $30 billion giant that would spawn a motley crew of online imitators. In this era of pessimistic economic prognosticators, Frank Sennett's Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever arrives as a sustained breath of uplifting air. This account of founder Andrew Mason's supposedly nonsensical discount startup blends the appeal of whimsy and wackiness, with the abiding allure of the underdog. Editor's recommendation.

Publishers Weekly
Groupon CEO Andrew Mason takes center stage in this story about the company’s founding, development, and explosive assent. Tracing the unfolding drama, Sennett (editor-in-chief of Time Out Chicago and author of 101 Stunts for Principals) takes us from November 2006, when Mason first pitched the idea for Policy Tree (Groupon’s precursor) to Eric Lefkofsky, the man who became Groupon’s chairman, to early November 2011, when Groupon finally went public on the NASDAQ stock exchange. Sennett commendably keeps the story lively, presenting an array of tales about the pranks and hijinks that went on within the company. But the pace inevitably slows as the narrative shifts to details about takeovers and the company’s attempt at getting its IPO approved by the SEC. However, it’s refreshing and enjoyable to read Sennett’s likable portrait of Mason (“the inexperienced CEO hiding a brilliant analytical mind behind a goofball demeanor”) and Lefkofsky (nicknamed “Punchable” by Mason for his hard-edged, “alpha dog” attitude). Sennett succeeds in presenting a balanced view of the company, complete with bad press and “damaging controversy.” Agent: Mel Flashman, Trident Media Group. (June)
From the Publisher
Praise for Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever

Top 10 Business Book of 2012*

“Perfect for would-be entrepreneurs with a dollar and a dream… Mr. Sennett had an enviable level of access during his reporting, and it pays off in a highly readable series of vignettes that demonstrate just how much personality plays in high-stakes Silicon Valley deal-making… For students of start-ups, there is much to enjoy in this breezy retelling of three tumultuous years with hundreds of millions of dollars on the line.”

The Wall Street Journal

“Fresh, fun, and exciting! A great inside business story wonderfully told."

–Tony Hsieh, New York Times bestselling author of Delivering Happiness and CEO of Zappos.com, Inc.

“The ‘insane gamble’ referred to in the subtitle is the one in which Andrew Mason, the founder of the Internet coupon site Groupon, turned down a $6 billion buyout offer from Google…Told with an appealingly jaunty prose style (imagine Ben Mezrich but with even more enthusiasm), the story portrays Mason as a plucky entrepreneur, a laidback and politically incorrect school prankster who, on the other hand, is a sharp-as-a-tack computer programmer and a guy who’s savvy enough to know a good idea when he has it... Is there a movie here, too, following in the wake of The Social Network? Well, there are no Winklevoss twins in the story, but don’t bet against it.”

Booklist (Starred Review, Top 10 Business Book of 2012*)

“By the end of the first chapter, Sennett's nuggets of detail swell into full-blown revelations. The Time Out Chicago editor in chief quickly plunges readers into Groupon's boardroom, providing one of the most detailed accounts of how close the founders came in late 2010 to accepting a $5.75 billion buyout offer from Google and why they ultimately rejected it… The cover of Sennett's book promises "the inside story" of the Chicago-based daily deal company that went from tech startup to multibillion-dollar initial public offering in less than four years, and that's what it delivers. Even the closest of Groupon observers will learn a lot. And they'll also hear from company insiders who rarely grant interviews… Through numerous anecdotes and observations, Sennett also captures all 360 degrees of Mason's personality, from his stubbornness and immaturity to his talent, dedication and loyalty… Sennett has provided us with a well-written and revealing first draft of the company's start.”

Chicago Tribune

“[Groupon's Biggest Deal Ever] is the first comprehensive examination of Chicago's overnight Internet star; it takes readers from the company's start, through its almost-sale to Google Inc. in late 2010 to its IPO last fall.”

—Crain’s Chicago Business

“A fast-and-furious account of how Groupon and its young founder bucked acquisition trends by rejecting a $6 billion buyout offer from web titan Google…. A justifiably dramatic look at the machinations of a resoundingly successful startup and its 'Andy Kaufman of CEOs.”

Kirkus Reviews

“Groupon CEO Andrew Mason takes center stage in this story about the company’s founding, development, and explosive assent… It’s refreshing and enjoyable to read Sennett’s likable portrait of Mason (“the inexperienced CEO hiding a brilliant analytical mind behind a goofball demeanor”) and Lefkofsky (nicknamed “Punchable” by Mason for his hard-edged, “alpha dog” attitude). Sennett succeeds in presenting a balanced view of the company, complete with bad press and “damaging controversy.”

Publishers Weekly 

“From the fast-paced opening pages, where we learn why Groupon rejected Google's $6 billion offer, Frank Sennett takes us on the wild journey of founder Andrew Mason's unlikely success and how it could just as easily have never happened at all.”

–William D. Cohan, New York Times bestselling author of Money and Power and House of Cards

“More Social Network than Barbarians at the Gate, this is an entertaining tale where the geeks meet money and power, and the skinny guys run away with the cash, only may be they don’t.” 

–Paco Underhill, author of Why We Buy, Call of the Mall, and What Women Want

“Ever wonder why you aren’t one mouse click away from becoming a billionaire? Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever gives you a funny, compelling, blow-by-blow account of what stands between a clever idea and an internet fortune.  You may never launch into cyberspace like the book’s zany and tenacious heroes, but you will gain a new perspective on how ideas blossom and mega-deals get made, and you’ll have fun along the way.”

–Jerry A. Webman, Chief Economist Oppenheimer Funds and author of MoneyShift: How to Prosper from What You Can't Control

“So what’s a three-year-old company––one that’s never made a profit, burns cash like there’s no tomorrow and has an easily duplicable business model––actually worth? If the company’s name is Groupon, the sky’s the limit. Frank Sennett tells the gripping story of entrepreneur/carnival-barker Andrew Mason’s gutsy decision to turn down a $6 billion buyout offer from Silicon Valley’s 600-pound gorilla (Google) and plunge ahead with an IPO that valued Andy’s excellent adventure at close to $16.7 billion. Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever proves that, on Wall Street, truth really is stranger than fiction.”  

–Peter Passell, Editor of the Milken Institute Review and author of Where to Put Your Money Now

Library Journal
In this company biography, Sennett (editor in chief, Time Out Chicago) follows a hometown favorite, Groupon, and its cofounder and CEO Andrew Mason along a meteoric path. It all began with a site called The Point (inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point), where contributors could back projects they believed in (including a possible climate-controlled dome over Chicago). When this failed to take off, the site began to focus more on local merchants and group-buying opportunities. In 2008, the name changed to Groupon, with the first deal being a classic two-for-one pizza offer. From this humble start to their now famous refusal of a $6 billion—dollar buy-out offer from Google to their $16.7 billion IPO in November 2011, the team behind Groupon led the way, inspiring and outlasting an avalanche of competitors. VERDICT A quick and surprisingly interesting look at the people behind the deals that land in your inbox every day. [See Prepub Alert, 12/12/11.]—Susan Hurst, Miami Univ. of Ohio, Oxford
Kirkus Reviews
A fast-and-furious account of how Groupon and its young founder bucked acquisition trends by rejecting a $6 billion buyout offer from web titan Google. Time Out Chicago Editor-in-Chief Sennett's focused analysis centers on Groupon founder Andrew Mason, a former Northwestern University music major with a penchant for computer coding and a passion for public policy. In 2006, Mason met Eric Lefkofsky and pitched his idea for a collective-action campaign website called The Point, Groupon's precursor. As Groupon emerged from Point users who exchanged services, the pair's disparate personalities flared; Mason was a diligent perfectionist eager to make Groupon the "new ecosystem for local commerce," while "alpha dog" Lefkofsky craved fast results. Desperate marketing strategies and a crudely constructed online presence drew incremental profits in its initial Chicago and Boston markets. Despite the spawning of knockoff sites, Groupon expanded to more than 150 markets by 2010, garnering Google's attention. Sennett appropriately profiles Mason as a performative, goofy guy who, along with high school buddies, hatched short-lived businesses repairing computers in their teens. Culled from interviews, research, emails "random eavesdropping on sales support calls," the author conveys Groupon's rapid expansion. He also acknowledges the collective power of online communities that fueled Groupon's stateside and international sales, making Mason the Web's newest "budding mogul." A justifiably dramatic look at the machinations of a resoundingly successful startup and its "Andy Kaufman of CEOs."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781250000842
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 6/5/2012
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

FRANK SENNETT is the editor-in-chief and president of Time Out Chicago. A graduate of Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, he earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Montana and has published seven previous books. He lives with his wife and two children in Chicago, Illinois.

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