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Google 'Offers' Launches in Portland

Last December, online mega-company Google offered a business purchase price of $6 billion to Groupon, a locality-based deal-of-the-day online brokerage. Groupon, started in Chicago in 2008, had quickly deployed its business model in certain target markets and experience a rapid growth rate, in just a few short years becoming the fastest-growing company ever.

The popularity of its short-term 'group coupon' offerings was staggering, and the customer surge--propelled by social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter--even caused some smaller businesses, like Portland-based Posies Cafe, to suffer from such a dramatic, near-crippling increase in customers.

To the shock of some, Groupon thought they had the next big thing and snubbed Google's buyout offer, opting instead to pursue the IPO route.

That IPO is currently still in the works, with valuations projected at $15 to $20 billion. However, a lot has changed in the market in just the last few months, as well.

Groupon's primary competition thus far has been LivingSocial, a similar company that's varied its coupon offerings and has been steadily gaining ground. In addition, the big boys have seen these small, young upstarts flourish in a previously untapped market, and now they're stepping in for a piece of the pie.

After having been rebuffed by Groupon, Google has now launched its "Offers" platform in its first test market -- that's right: Portland, Ore. Slinde Nelson's former Old Town neighbor, Floyd's Coffee, was the first to submit a "Google offer".

While it's unclear exactly how competitively Google will be initially with the more "established" group coupon companies, both it and Facebook (with its "Deals" product) seemed primed with certain competitive advantages that likely could eventually cause the market no small amount of upheaval.

After all, where would one find the latest deals from Groupon and/or LivingSocial? By using Google. And how would you tell your friends about the great deal you just found? Possibly via email, but more likely by using, well, Facebook.

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