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RVAM sells Pelago stake to Groupon

RVAM sells Pelago stake to Groupon
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First Published: Mon, Apr 25 2011. 11 38 PM IST
Updated: Mon, Apr 25 2011. 11 38 PM IST
New Delhi: Online-coupon company Groupon Inc. has acquired the stake of Reliance Venture Asset Management Ltd (RVAM) in Seattle-based Pelago Inc., the creator of Whrrl, a location-based social network product available only to US customers.
Groupon will be taking on the staff and technology that were used to create Whrrl, which will be closed at the end of the month, Pelago said on its website.
“We got an 80% premium over the current fair market value. We are trading it for shares in Groupon, which itself was trading at $5 billion (valuation) at the time of the acquisition.” Harshal J. Shah, chief executive of RVAM, said in an interview on Monday.
The fund had invested “a shade under $5 million in 2008”, he said. Bloomberg recently reported that Groupon had held talks with banks about an initial public offering that would value the firm between $15 billion and $25 billion. If the company lists at a valuation of $25 billion, “we are looking at a 4x or 5x return on top of the 80% premium, netting us a 9x profit,” Shah said.
Jeff Holden, chief executive of Pelago, worked with Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon.com, for 10 years before founding the firm.
Under the deal, Holden will oversee product development at Groupon and members of the Pelago team will take on roles in Grouponnovations.
The deal will benefit Groupon, as it looks to expand beyond daily deals to more mobile and personalized discounts.
As of January, there were more than 5,000 Whrrl Societies. Whrrlers share recommendations of things to do and places to visit, earning so-called influence points as they try new things themselves and inspire others to do so.
This is RVAM’s third exit this year after selling out of French 4G chipmaker Sequans Communications, listed on the New York Stock Exchange, and Hyderabad-based Dhama Innovations, through a secondary sale to private equity investors.
Other investors in Pelago included Bezos and Silicon Valley venture fund Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers (KPCB), which also invested in Groupon last year. This was the first investment made by KPCB from their iFund, which puts money into ideas and products that build upon the iPhone, iTouch and iPad.
“We’re excited to announce that the minds at Pelago (creators of Whrrl) have officially joined the Groupon family,” said a blog post on Pelago’s website. “The mission alignment of the two companies and the fact that we’ve taken very different approaches is a big part of what makes this marriage non-strange, and in fact, very complementary and compelling.”
divya.g@livemint.com
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First Published: Mon, Apr 25 2011. 11 38 PM IST