In the two years since its founding, Groupon has seen its business model copied by companies in about 50 countries (marked at left with red pins). The Chicago-based group-buying site has responded to the competition by raising a ton of capital and going on a shopping spree of its very own.
In May, Groupon purchased CityDeal, a large European clone based in Berlin. The acquisition immediately added 600 employees to Groupon's payroll (which had stood at 300 before the deal.) CityDeal is active in 80 markets in 16 countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, and France.
Four months after raising millions of dollars from a Russian investment fund, Groupon acquired a majority stake in Darberry.ru, a similar site based in Moscow. With the investment, Darberry was renamed Groupon Russia. The site currently serves seven cities in Russia, and 180,000 subscribers; flush with Groupon's investment, it intends to expand throughout the country and into neighboring Ukraine.
In Japan, Groupon put up $10 million to buy a majority stake in Qpod, a Tokyo-based start-up that was set up as a joint venture between a direct sales company and a venture capital firm. The site has since been re-branded Groupon Japan.
Groupon has also entered Latin America, buying one of its imitators in Chile, a site called ClanDescuento. “The expansion of Groupon Latin America is an important step in our evolution as a leading global Internet brand," founder Andrew Mason said in a statement. "We hope to present this new model of local business to people around the world.”
Recently, Groupon was said to be shopping deals in India. The most likely choice there may be an Indian daily-discount site called Taggle, which was funded in part by Battery Ventures. Battery is also a major investor in Groupon.
So far, there's one glaring omission in Groupon's global expansion: The site has yet to expand into China, where about 1,000 clones have already sprung up—including an exact replica of the original site, which lives at the address groupon.cn.