Groupon Tour

About a month ago, in a series of "Breakfast and Learns" morning meetings, Groupon management told employees that they would be able to sell some of their stock in the company the same day that it goes public ( Friday).

This turned out not to be true.

Why is this a big deal?

Sources close to Groupon employees tell us that some of them took the original information and made big financial decisions based on it. They started looking at paying for stuff: cars, housing, tuition, and savings.

Also, this kind of mistake also contributes to the notion that Groupon might not be ready to be a public company.

In a memo to employees, Groupon finance SVP Brad Downes apologized for the screw-up:

"We are writing to let you know that our lead underwriters (the guys who are facilitating the IPO) are requiring that no holder of Groupon stock from an equity compensation grant (which includes (i) actual shares held currently, (ii) shares that can be obtained through the exercise of stock options, and (iii) shares that will be obtained through the vesting of restricted stock units (RSUs)) be allowed to sell or transfer that stock for 180 days post-IPO.

"For many of you, this news is contrary to what you heard at the recent IPO Breakfast & Learns and/or what was referenced in the FAQ posted to the Wiki. For this, we apologize."

It would have been pretty weird if Groupon employees had been able to sell on day one. The banks that underwrite IPOs almost always forbid this. They don't want everyone dumping the stock the moment they can, and hurting investors buying into the company on the IPO.

On the other hand, it's got to be pretty frustrating for Groupon employees to be jerked around like that.

The truth is, Groupon is still a super-fast growing startup. There are going to be hiccups. To use a tired metaphor: the people building that company are basically performing the equivalent of building a car at 90 miles-per-hour. Sometimes, the door will fall off.

Briefed on the details of this story, Groupon declined to comment.

We'd like to hear more from "sources close to Groupon employees." You can reach us at or 727 507 1699.

For a really deep dive into the company, check out…

INSIDE GROUPON: The Truth About The World's Most Controversial Company

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