Groupon China Launching Soon, But I Hope It Plays It Seriously

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We broke the news that Groupon’s recruiting in China and also got impressed by its aggressive Group-buying China plan. And we recently also contacted one of the earliest Groupon China staff who refused to give any details but confirmed that the site would be launched soon. It seems that Groupon’s China plan is running pretty smooth. Nevertheless, I have to say, at least from the information we have so far, we are not sure if Groupon is serious about China.

The VP of Groupon China has quit?

Days ago, Ren Xin (marsocean on weibo) posted a message saying he’s quit Groupon China due to personal reason. Ren Xin, the ex-marketing guy for Newegg,  said his job is the VP of Marketing for Groupon China. This is fairly interesting because I don’t understand what could be the personal reason for a staff left a company which he just joined several months ago, and why a VP of a have-not-launched and very young site is worthy of being reported by all Chinese media as well as himself.

A foreigner management team in China?

You may do a search on Linkedin to see who have joined Groupon China. I have several connections there who are mostly foreigners. No offense to those foreign friends who have joined Groupon China. But I have to say if the Groupon China is managed by a team with foreigners or guys with strong international background but less local experience as the majority, it will be very hard to compete with local clones.  Group purchase is 95% offline business as the founder of Groupon Hongkong said, ‘guanxi’ is such an important key in traditional business in China, we are afraid that foreigners are difficult to handle with that.

Tencent’s attitude?

Although Tencent and Groupon sound quite fit in the Group buying business. Tencent is strong at online business and the partnership with Groupon could boost its offline business in a very short time. So far, we have not heard any official announcement from Tencent. Instead, we’ve heard that Tencent would open up its own Group buying service and integrate other third-parties’ groupon service (via 163), which will not bring any good to Groupon’s China plan.

The anti-Groupon union

Groupon China’s aggressive plan definitely pissed off the local Groupon-clones. It’s reported that several leading local group buying site including Lashou, Manzuo, FTuan, 58 etc have agreed on setting up an anti-Groupon union. Anyone used to work for Groupon China will never have chance to work for local group buying service. Groupon China is cursed even before it is launched.

VentureBeat believes Groupon in China could succeed. I agree on some of those points, but I guess it’s too early to draw that conclusion. I understand Groupon is looking at IPO in 2011, but if you want to play in China, play it seriously.