Groupon’s purchase of Pelago, the parent company of Whrrl, offers an interesting glimpse into what the local daily deals powerhouse might be up to next.
With the acquisition, which was for an undisclosed amount, Groupon gets a team that’s been focused on consumer check-ins at local businesses and offering relevant suggestions — similar to the area that players like Foursquare and Gowalla are focused on.
Whrrl also allowed consumers to join affinity groups and built brand communities around interests, such as the Del Monte Kibbles & Bits “I love dogs” group. Matching that expertise with Groupon’s sales force, its advertisers, and its consumer base, would seem to be very compelling — allowing Groupon to move beyond “daily deals” in various cities to offering mobile “on the spot” deals based on anything from location, to interests, to previous check-ins.
It’s an area pursued by no small number of competitors, including Google, but Groupon seems to have as good a chance as any at being successful. (It certainly thinks so, having passed up what was seen as a lucrative buy-out from Google.)
Though Groupon plans to shutter Whrrl “for now” at the end of the month — allowing users to download all their data, such as check-ins, recommendations and photos — Pelago’s blog post on the acquisition seems to hint that something similar may be coming back.
“Think of it as the end of the first act of a long and complex play. You would be right to expect that the ideas underpinning Whrrl and many of the inventions contained within may reemerge under the Groupon banner,” wrote Jeff Holden, co-founder and CEO of Pelago in a blog post. Later in the post, he added, “I hope you do download your data and ultimately have the opportunity to use it again.”
Pelago had around 500,000 registered users of its Whrrl application, which ran on the web and via applications for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
Holden will be overseeing Groupon product development, according to a Groupon blog post.
“We’ve always liked CEO Jeff Holden, the Whrrl team and the technology they’ve developed,” the post reads. “Their obsession with real-world serendipitous discovery, or “Anti-Search,” is core to Groupon’s mission. It’s about discovering what you didn’t know you didn’t know, right in your own backyard. Jeff intimately gets consumer buying behavior and the importance of a great user experience, and his team is this awesome combination of data-driven creatives…the people who create smart products that are really fun to use.”