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:

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.

  • Kira Wampler

    Excellent post – loved the thinking, especially in terms of what’s great for small businesses.

    One small update I’d recommend is your point re: Intuit and social. Before I do, let me say that I worked at Intuit for nearly six years and helped build the social engagement team. :)

    Intuit has long been engaging with customers on the social web. The @intuit account on Twitter focuses exclusively on small businesses (17K+ followers), and many Intuit employees regularly answer customers’ question on the social web about Intuit small business products like QuickBooks. @Community_Bryan, @jay_badenhope et al are quite active not to mention the TurboTax team. In addition, the team actively engages on Facebook (see Intuit’s page there which has a very active content and engagement approach) along with the largest community of small business online – This community is also built directly into the product, with hundreds of thousands of questions asked and answered on a monthly basis.

    Hope this is helpful. Best, Kira

  • John Fox

    Kira, thanks for the clarification. I was more specifically referencing the lack of executive involvement. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most the executive team seems to have passive involvement in social, at best.

    Btw, your team at Ant’s Eye View is outstanding. Jackie Huba and Ben McConnell (Ben endorsed my book, The Marketing Playbook) are two of the very best in Social Media Strategy.

  • Kira Wampler

    Thanks for the reply. Given how you wrote it, saying that Intuit needs social media savvy, it wasn’t clear you were referencing execs engaging vs the company actually getting social.

    IMHO, for a company the size of Intuit, having many business units, many employees and many active social channels, shows Intuit has savvy regardless of whether or not an exec is tweeting. In fact, execs like Scott Cook and Brad Smith are very big supporters of social engagement… Brad has publicly declared social as a key trend for Intuit as long as 2 1/2 years ago. And, Scott has provided tremendous support and guidance to internal teams driving social engagement efforts over the years. Again, my opinion only, but I’d much rather have exec support internally in a large organization than an exec tweeting. Of course, both is lovely, but, from my experience, the former is very helpful.

    Thanks for the kind words about Ant’s Eye View. It’s been such a blast since I’ve joined in April 2010.

  • John Fox

    Kira, I’ve corrected my article based on your feedback. Many thanks! And good luck in your new job.

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  • Erin

    Re: “getting social”
    10 years from now the world will use the internet – not so much the like page hosting stuff.

  • Groupon script

    If Groupon wants to succeed upto its potential, then it needs co-operation with Google adwords. Google advertising platform would be a best choice for Groupon deals to make high amount of profit. With only E-mail advertisement, it cannot prioritize the daily deals.