Groupon’s China site Gaopeng.com went live today, officially registering emails with plans to start advertising group-buy deals in early March. The site is headquartered in Beijing and will initially offer deals in Shanghai and Beijing, with plans to expand soon. After their Super Bowl commercial gaffe and an anti-Groupon alliance among Chinese competitors, we’ll be watching carefully to see what comes of the new Tencent-partnered endeavor.
The anti-Groupon alliance among local competitors (of which there are about 1,700!) came about in reaction to Groupon’s ambitious (i.e. poaching) hiring practices in the local market. Couple that with the ridiculous ad (mind boggling in how many ways it managed to offend), and it looks like there’s a lot of ground to make up. Hopefully investors Tencent, or rather Tencent Collaboration Fund, and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capitol can steer business in the right direction.
Observers have made the compelling suggestion that Groupon’s efforts in China could simply be in anticipation of their IPO, to show they’re wiggling their toes in the China market and make for a better debut. How they actually do in the China market, where many have failed before, could essentially be of no consequence to the American internet giant. Interesting thought, since that would explain the extent of all the mucking up they’ve done so far.
While it remains unclear how soon the site will expand beyond Shanghai and Beijing, you can currently register for 11 cities on the site: Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, Tianjing, Nanjing, and Suzhou.
Rumors are that they plan to hire over 1,000 employees by the end of March. We’ve also heard lots of foreigners are being hired, which most China observers would agree is probably a bad sign.