As Groupon flails, Coupons.com IPO shows Wall Street's desire for traditional discounting

As Groupon flails, Coupons.com IPO shows Wall Street's desire for traditional discounting

Coupons.com President & CEO Steven Boal clasps hands with his wife Michele Boal as they are applauded during opening bell ceremonies of the New York Stock Exchange, marking the company's IPO, Friday, March 7, 2014. Stocks were wavering between small gains and losses early Friday after the government reported a pickup in hiring last month as well as a slight increase in the unemployment rate as more people started looking for work. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

Coupons.com President & CEO Steven Boal clasps hands with his wife Michele Boal as they are applauded during opening bell ceremonies of the New York Stock Exchange, marking the company’s IPO, Friday, March 7, 2014. Stocks were wavering between small gains and losses early Friday after the government reported a pickup in hiring last month as well as a slight increase in the unemployment rate as more people started looking for work. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)

“Clearly, the investors are very happy, the market’s happy, the employee base is really happy; most importantly I think our clients are really happy,” founder and CEO Stephen Boal said Friday.

Founded during the dot-com boom of the late 1990s, Mountain View-based Coupons.com took three years to launch its first digital coupon, in 2001, and is now moving to mobile devices in a fight with the mailbox circulars and newspaper inserts that have dominated thrifty customers’ lives for decades

“Groupon and Living Social are focused on very few categories, very specific deals, a lot of service-oriented coupons,” Swagbucks CEO Josef Gorowitz said Friday. “We’re able to bring savings across the traditional consumer behavior. Every mom going to the grocery store, every techie buying their tech products, we’re able to bring savings to much more of a mainstream consumer than the niche consumer looking to get a massage at a discounted price.”

Gorowitz’s company offers rewards for consumers shopping or performing other actions online, the dot-com equivalent to rewards cards that retailers have been handing out for decades. He said in a phone interview Friday that his El Segundo-based company and Coupons.com also have a strong growth trajectory due to the growth of mobile products, an important focus for investors.

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