Groupon Expands Into Russia & Japan Via Acquisitions

(Reuters) – Internet bargain-hunters in Japan and Russia will soon be able to get their Groupon.

The fast-growing privately held Web company, which groups customers for everything from dental services to restaurants to try and get a price break — said on Tuesday it acquired two rivals: Japan‘s Qpod and Russia’s Darberry.

It plans to soon rebrand both businesses under its own name and website design. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Groupon — a combination of “group” and “coupon” — helps buyers band together for group discounts from retail and service companies, who agree to the deals after a critical mass of buyers has been reached.

The brainchild of former University of Chicago graduate student Andrew Mason, the company has grown rapidly since it was founded in November 2008. It received $1 million in seed money from Chicago technology entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky and now has more than 13 million subscribers in 29 countries, and over 1,200 employees worldwide.

This year, it raised $135 million, much of it from Digital Sky Technologies, the Russian investment fund that backs Facebook and games company Zynga.

“We are focusing our people and capital on markets with the largest return on investment and these markets represent a tremendous global e-commerce opportunity for us,” Rob Solomon, president and chief operating officer, said in a statement.

Japan has the world’s largest retail market after the United States, according to the Japan External Trade Organization. Russia saw its retail market increase 3.4 percent in the first half of this year, based on findings from the country’s Federal State Statistics Service.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; editing by Andre Grenon)