Online bargain broker Groupon enters Japan, Russia

Aug 18, 2010

(AP) -- Online coupon provider Groupon can cross two more countries off its global shopping list: Japan and Russia.

The Chicago-based company, which has quickly become a favorite of Internet hunters, says it has bought Japan's Qpod Inc. and Russia's Darberry Inc. as part of its international expansion.

Launched in 2008, Groupon - a fusion of "group" and "coupon" - combines social media with collective buying clout to offer daily deals on products, services and cultural events in local markets. Promotions are activated only after a certain number of people in a given city sign up.

Wednesday in New York, for example, Groupon subscribers could buy a ticket to an interactive murder mystery show for $13 if 50 people registered. A ticket normally costs $30.

Groupon makes money by taking a percentage of each "groupon" it sells.

Qpod and Darberry both launched this year and operate similar social commerce models. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"The launch of Groupon Japan and Groupon Russia reaffirms our global expansion into Asia and deeper into Europe," said president Rob Solomon in a statement. "We are focusing our people and capital on markets with the largest return on investment, and these markets represent a tremendous global e-commerce opportunity for us."

Groupon's network includes 13 million subscribers in 29 countries, according to the company.

The latest deals follow its purchase in May of Europe's Citydeal, which was founded in November 2009 by a group that included the founders of Europe.

In April, Groupon landed a $135 million investment from Russian investment group DST and Massachusetts-based Battery Ventures. Groupon at the time said it would use part of the money to fund its global expansion.

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