Google's pursuit of red-hot social buying start-up Groupon may have come to an end.
Citing two sources familiar with the talks, the Chicago Tribune is reporting that Groupon, a fellow resident of Chicago, has decided to go it alone, passing up an offer to be acquired by Google for between $5 billion and $6 billion. The report suggested Groupon hasn't made a final decision about whether it wants to pursue an initial public offering but might go down that road next year.
Talks had been reportedly hot and heavy, always looking to boost its presence in local advertising markets and acquire sources of data about consumer buying intent. Groupon offers a "deal of the day" to users, usually a significant discount on a sought-after product or service in their city or town.
Google would love to add that kind of service geared around specifically targeted local markets, which is seen as a big source of future Internet advertising growth. It's not clear if Google was unwilling to go high enough for Groupon's tastes (although $6 billion would have been Google's largest purchase by a significant margin) or if Groupon simply believed it could chart its own path, following start-ups such as Twitter that have drawn Google's interest but generated momentum on their own: All Things D reported earlier on Friday that Groupon was doing as much as $2 billion a year in revenue.
A Google representative declined to comment on what the company termed "rumor and speculation," while representatives Groupon did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.