Groupon in China Not an Unqualified Success

Danwei’s Jeremy Goldkorn writes for TechCrunch on a Global Mobile Internet Conference session in which Groupon’s invasion of China became a “How Not To” guide, with a succinct conclusion by Baidu’s Kaiser Kuo.

The interview was titled “How foreign companies can succeed in China”, a rather amusing title considering that no foreign Internet company has ever achieved a dominant position in the People’s Republic. Cynics in the audience joked that after Google’s famous partial withdrawal from China, John Liu’s presentation should perhaps been called “How foreign companies can fail in China” and name checked eBay, Yahoo and MSN as foreign companies whose performance in this market can best be described as mediocre.

Liu’s interview and most of the panel discussion was all vanilla until Groupon was mentioned ….

The only nice thing anyone had to say about Groupon was that they have just succeeded in purchasing the domain name from one of the thousand-plus Groupon clones that are already operating in China.

Kuo crisply summed up the prevailing sentiment: “Groupon is getting it in the ass”.

See also: CDT’s coverage of the Groupon Superbowl ad which heralded the company’s move into China, miraculously uniting patriotic Chinese and Free Tibetans in outrage.

Update: Kuo says he was misheard: “The quote wasn’t quite right. Bad acoustics or something. Said they were getting it ass-backward in China.”


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