IPOs: Groupon's on, Facebook's off

Both sites have had something of an on-off relationship with the idea of a flotation. But Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is being decidedly savvy about it.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 16 Mar 2012
By all accounts, it’s IPO day in Silicon Valley: while daily deals site Groupon has, after much to-ing and fro-ing on the matter, decided that it’s definitely maybe going to float at some point in the next two months; Facebook is reported to have pushed back its own IPO until late 2012. Apparently, its founder, Mark Zuckerberg, has put off the plans because he wants his team to concentrate more on product development and warding off competition from Google and Twitter. Looking at the state of the markets at the moment, that seems like a very sensible plan…

Groupon first: just when we’d thought the coupon site had taken its eye off the ball, putting off presentations to potential investors earlier this month, it’s apparently now firmly(ish) back on track to go public in either late October or early November.

One of the reasons for the delay was a memo its CEO sent employees which lambasted its critics (no comment), which was accordingly leaked, causing the US Securities and Exchange Commission to worry that it had violated rules relating to corporate information before an IPO. But the SEC has now changed its mind (did Groupon persuade it with the offer of a couple of free fish pedicures?), and Groupon’s apparently ‘more confident’ about its prospects than ever. Only time will tell if prospective investors share that optimism.

Then again, market fluctuations could always cause further delays. Groupon isn’t the only one to have put off its IPO of late: Facebook has apparently decided to put off its flotation, partly thanks to the fluctuations in the stock market. Given breathless anticipation by investors, if it did go public, chances are Facebook’s stock would be go like hot cakes on a cold day. But Zuckerberg’s decision to put it off yet again will only serve to increase the excitement on the markets. So from that perspective, it’s a very canny move…

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