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Google’s bid for Groupon – could Intuit be their White Knight?

Google’s offer to snap up Groupon for $2-3B is big news (see: Venturebeat.com)

The advantages to Google are obvious: Functioning as a bolt-on to its existing ad buying platform, Groupon would give AdWords advertisers the added option of running local promotions. In fact, Groupon’s reverse auction scheme seems like an idea fit for Google.

Not to over-simplify it, but basically Groupon would become a new radio-button to click on in the AdWords system.

Naturally, a deal of this size is like blood in the water for other suitors like eBay, Microsoft and Amazon. Unfortunately, if history is any guide, of these three, Amazon offers the only true alternative.

But, let me suggest an alternative for an even better tie-up/partnership: Intuit.

As an avid supporter of small businesses, here’s my case for a Groupon+Intuit (G+I) partnership:

  1. First and foremost, I hope any deal will be based on what new services can come out of the partnership that neither party could create on their own.

    In the case of G+I, it’s about what both Groupon and Intuit can build together for small businesses. Where Google may make short-term sense for Google’s F500 customers and a handful of savvy web marketers, a Groupon+Intuit partnership accomplishes something bigger.

    Intuit brings more than 3 million, eager small businesses to the deal. Leveraging social media, G+I would be a new, cost-efficient conduit to prospective customers for small businesses.

    Talk about a shovel-ready, economic stimulus!

  2. Operating the Google AdWords platform requires skill beyond the scope of most small businesses. For one, buying ads is, at best, confusing. And two, the necessary web page modifications are non-trivial.

    Groupon has no such burden. In fact (other than the reverse-auction price mechanism), Groupon promotions operate similar to other price promotions a small business might run already.

    While Google wouldn’t necessarily have to integrate Groupon with AdWords, I seriously doubt they will avoid the urge.

  3. Intuit gets instant increased social media savvy. [corrected based on Kira's comment, below]
    They don’t have it today…and they need it. As far as I can tell, only a handful of Intuit folks are on Twitter, the most popular being @IntuitInc (the PR/Marcom team) with just 1,525 followers. Compare that to Groupon’s founder, Andrew Mason, with 3.4x more followers.
  4. Intuit’s Grow Your Business Division (the most likely group inside Intuit to run the partnership) needs a win. Stuck on offering me-too web services like web hosting, G+I would catapult them into a wide-open field (think: Blue Ocean Strategy).

Unless I’m missing something, Groupon doesn’t need the cash. If that’s the case, there’s a mountain of money on the sidelines aching for opportunities like Groupon.

So if Groupon is looking for a partner, I believe an Intuit deal is strategically better.

What do you think?

PS, in case you’re wondering, I have no business relationship with any of the companies mentioned in this article.


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