How Groupon Bought The Domain [clip]

Check out the way Groupon bought the domain When the service launched it was on because they didn’t own

I excerpted the video & transcript from my Groupon Interview with Andrew Mason (which is one of my best, so I hope you check it out).

The transcript (video is below)

The guy who actually writes all the content had the idea for the name and its like the perfect name [“Groupon”].

We emailed the people that own it and said, ‘Hey, are you interested in selling?’

They said, ‘No.’

We said, ‘Fine.’

At that point, we had no idea where [the business was] going. We went and worked on the project. We got some momentum.

A couple months in, we emailed again and said, ‘Hey, are you interested in selling?’

He said, ‘No, definitely not.’

We said, ‘Just curious, what are you planning on doing with it?’

He said, ‘Well, I live in England and I’m interested in, at some point, starting a group coupon service, where somebody would be able to buy a coupon that, if they bring four people into a restaurant, all five of those people would get a discount.’

So, it’s like a slightly different take on the group buying, group coupon model.

We said, ‘That’s interesting. We’re doing something somewhat similar to that in the United States, so, maybe we can work together on this. We can take this to Europe.’

He said, ‘No way.’

We said, ‘Okay.’

We continued operating.

Then we had a trademark for Groupon. That trademark extended to England.

We contact him and say, ‘Hey, you can launch that thing, but you can’t use the name Groupon because we have a trademark on it.’

So then, he decided he wanted to sell.

I think we bought it in May 2009 or something like that for maybe $250,000, which seemed like a lot at the time and now it seems cheap.

The clip

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Continue to the full interview >>

  • Coryliu

    wtf? what name were they operating with before they owned the domain? how did they trademark someone else's name?

  • Andrew Warner

    It used to be

  • chris Brisson

    wow interesting…. definitely something to keep in mind when founding a new name.

  • David Siteman Garland

    Very interesting back door approach. I'd be curious how the 250k for the domain was agreed upon.

  • Andrew Warner

    That's a lot of money for a domain that's not in the dictionary.

  • Andrew Warner

    Groupon really is a perfect name.

    I'm surprised they'd start without locking it up, but it says a lot about
    the approach they took with Groupon, compared to the one they took with

    With ThePoint, they seem to have waited till everything was fully baked
    before launching.

    With Groupon, they seem to have just launched with whatever they could roll
    out on within a few weeks.

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  • David Damen

    It's pretty interesting actually. I would have thought that common law would have given the original owner of the groupon domain name at least some rights regarding the trademark as well, at least in England where he lived. I suppose the original site was just a placeholder with no actual content. I doubt this approach would work against a more established site in countries that operate under common law.

  • home jobs

    interesting one.

  • Roberto Valerio

    250k ? Way too much. But well, if you learn to spend VC money at that rate … good luck and I hope the IPO in 2011 works.

  • Businessfx

    So the lesson here is for people to start trademarking the domain names they register and have plans for so this kind of bullying and/or being “forced to sell” doesn't happen. It is really starting to look like people should start incorporating or llc'ing to protect themselves and their names, to fend off the “billion dollar valuation” folks.

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  • Ken Singh

    In the Domain Industry its also called “Reverse Hijacking the Domain Name” at least you guys paid a v. decent amount of 250k.
    Ken Singh

  • Andrew Warner

    I'm not sure there's any jacking involved here. Like you said, they paid a
    lot of money.

  • ???(James Jung)

    Andrew, This is the best inspiring interview. In these days there are many young korean entrepreneurs trying to open the business like Groupon. Thank you : )

  • Andrew Warner

    Looks like people all over the world are learning from their success. Good
    luck James.

  • Javazetti

    How does a United States Trademark extend to England?

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