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More Bad News for Groupon: CityDeal Co-Founders Quit

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It’s another week, and for the daily deals site Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN), it’s one with more bad news.

More Bad News for Groupon: CityDeal Co-Founders Quit

According to the German blogs Gruenderszene and VentureVillage, the co-founders of CityDeal, the European site purchased by Groupon in 2010, have exited the company.

Managing director Thorsten Schröppe and Sebastian Schmidt have quit the troubled Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN). This follows CityDeal co-founders Daniel P. Glasner and Philipp Magin, who left the company this summer.

Magin’s LinkedIn profile had him as co-CEO of Groupon DACH (Germany, Austria and Switzerland) and Groupon’s International VP; he was listed as the co-founder and managing director at Groupon GmbH.

Glasner was CEO & co-founder at CityDeal GmbH.

They left the company back in June, just after Marc Samwer also said goodbye to Groupon; he was the company’s head of international operations.

So who is left minding the European ship? The exits aren’t limited to Europe, as resignations have also come at Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) in the United States.

On August 23, Reuters reported that Groupon’s Lee Brown’s resignation had been announced in an internal corporate memo. He oversaw national sales.

Groupon’s operations chief, Kal Raman, said of Brown’s departure via the memo, “Under Lee’s management, the team has secured a number of key customers, and I’d like to personally thank Lee for his contributions and wish him the best in his next opportunity.”

Brown’s news comes after additional senior executives started leaving the company earlier in the year.

How bad is it at Groupon?

Since last year’s IPO, the company has lost about three quarters of its market value. There’s been a lot of negative news about the company, and in August, when the company reported its latest earnings report, the stock went below $5.

It has further plummeted, trading at $4.23 at the time of this writing.

Here at ValueWalk, we’re always keeping an eye on the stock, and back in August, we wrote about Barclay’s downgrade of the stock on August 21 from overweight to underweight. The bank also placed a $4 price target on it after the stock plunged to $4.65.

Analysts wrote at the time, “Upon further due diligence since the report, and considering that Groupon’s business model could be undergoing a meaningful transition that persists and creates uncertainty, we’re now taking a more pragmatic approach to our forecasts (e.g., CY13 EBITDA to $171mn from $417mn). Based on these new estimates, our target goes to $4, and we are downgrading our rating to Underweight.”

We applauded the bank for taking due diligence, but wondered why it didn’t happen earlier.

And, on the day before the research report, August 20, Forbes wrote an article called, “Why Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) is over and Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB) and Twitter should follow.”

It listed numerous investors who were fleeing the stock, including Andreessen Horowitz, hedge fund Maverick Capital Ltd., and Fidelity Management & Research Co.

Add in Groupon’s senior executives also leaving, and it’s just a matter of time before consumers leave as well, if they haven’t already.

In relalted news, Jefferies has initiated coverage on Groupon, noting:

We are initiating coverage of Groupon with a Hold rating and $4.75 price target. At $4.15 the stock trades at ~3.5x our 2013E EBITDA (2012-15 EBITDA CAGR of ~16%) and ~11x our 2013E Operating EPS (2012-15 Op EPS CAGR of ~28%). While Groupon is the worldwide leader in the daily deals market, we are concerned that global macro-economic headwinds and “deal fatigue” are having a negative impact on revenue growth and will persist near term.

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