Whoa: Rumor says Groupon raising $950 million

Company has "filed a certificate," report says, that could mean it's raising as much as $950 million at a valuation higher than what Google offered in snubbed buyout pitch.

A financial news and research outlet called VCExperts posted an article today claiming that on December 17, daily-deals broker Groupon "filed a certificate to authorize a $950 million Series G round of preferred stock." The exact amount that the company raised in the monster funding round should be available next week (which means it could be quite a bit less), the report continued, adding that the company's valuation is likely $6.4 billion.

The dollar amount sounds like something out of Dr. Evil's machinations in the "Austin Powers" spoof film series, but Groupon isn't denying it: The company, which reportedly turned down a multibillion-dollar acquisition bid from Google earlier this month, has declined to comment on the matter.

Where could it be going? Assuming the VCExperts report is accurate, there are a lot of possibilities. One, Groupon is a powerful moneymaker in the U.S., but critics have pointed out that its overseas business operations are lackluster, and this kind of financing could be used to bolster its international product.

Additionally, the number of "Groupon clones" out there has flagged the fact that while Groupon has a big majority of the market in e-mail based coupons and discounts, the business model is remarkably easy to replicate. The money raised could hypothetically help Groupon build stronger technology to give it a bigger advantage against smaller and more nimble competitors, something hinted at with the company's acquisition of the Silicon Valley-based Ludic Labs earlier this month.

Or, as Groupon seems to be following the mold of companies like Facebook and Twitter in putting off an initial public offering long past the point where its late-'90s brethren might have, a gargantuan amount of funding could let early employees and investors continue to cash out on a secondary market .

Update, 8:29 p.m. PST: The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Groupon did indeed make the filing.

 

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