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Group discount buying service Groupon, the granddaddy of the daily deals startups, debuted on the stock market this morning with its highly anticipated IPO, trading on the Nasdaq exchange as GRPN. This will be a fascinating one to watch as a litmus test for other startups and a gauge of the tech economy.

It’s hard not to think back to the original dot-com era, when early leaders like Amazon.com used their IPOs to mark their entrance into the big time, and later entrants like Pets.com … well, you know what happened there.

The interesting thing here is that we don’t know where Groupon will fall in that spectrum.

Groupon’s stock debuted with a big surge, but that’s only natural given the intense interest. In recent weeks, questions about Groupon’s financials have increasingly raised eyebrows about the company, but the company is defending its growth potential as the stock debuts.

“The metric that we focus on is revenue per customer, and the revenue per quarter has been increasing … really ever since we launched,” says Groupon CFO Jason Child (a former Amazon.com finance executive) in the CNBC video interview embedded below.

In a post on the Groupon blog, CEO Andrew Mason is understated, calling the IPO “a small milestone on our journey.”

Also check out Larry Dignan’s post on ZDNet for key numbers to watch in the Groupon IPO.

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