An IPO for Chicago-based Groupon

The jokes are already starting: $10 gets you $20 in shares.

Chicago-based Groupon, the Web company that offers coupon-style deals to its subscribers, announced plans to file for an initial public offering today. The company isn’t saying how much stock it plans to sell, what the price will be, or how much it thinks it will raise.

But the deal will be watched for two reasons.

1) Investors have been worried about the health of the stock market. Strong demand for Groupon shares could lift the market’s spirits.

2) Groupon is the highest profile company to go public since General Motors did so last fall.

Here’s CEO Andrew Mason’s letter to shareholders.

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason, by Getty Images

He says,


“We want the time people spend with Groupon to be memorable. Life is too short to be a boring company.”

The Wall Street Journal has reported a Groupon IPO could raise as much as $1 billion, which would pay for a lot of spa manicures or sportswear purchases or rooftop parties to watch the Chicago Cubs. Those are all things the company has offered, in deals that are generally about half off. Today, for example, Groupon is offering a deal at Old Navy that costs $10 for $20 in merchandise.

By filing its intend to sell stock, Groupon is placing a bet that it will be able to operate more successfully as a public company than as an arm of another. In December, it rejected an offer from Google that was valued at $6 billion, although the Journal says only $3.5 billion would have been in cash up front.

Check out our partner WBEZ in Chicago for more coverage. And tell us: do you buy Groupons? Would you invest in Groupon shares?

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