John Gapper

Further to my column on the bad smell emanating from Groupon’s S-1 filing for an initial public offering, more details are emerging of how Groupon has been buying growth and the past business ventures of Eric Lefkofsky, its chairman.

Fortune has an article on how Mr Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell, his business partner, have launched other businesses that have grown rapidly and then run into trouble – and have taken out money through share offerings.

Meanwhile, Sarah Lacy at TechCrunch reports on the turmoil in Groupon’s international businesses, especially in China. As Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester Research points out, much of Groupon’s growth comes from international acquisitions.

One thing this reminds me of, however,  is the value of listings requirements and public market disclosure. In a world where late-stage technology investments are increasingly made through private markets such as SecondMarket and SharesPost, there is nothing like an IPO to bring awkward details into the open. Read more