Groupon hunts for new No 2 to manage flotation

Groupon, one of several internet companies that offers users money-off vouchers to spend at local businesses, is looking for a new No 2 executive to steer it through a US stock market flotation after parting ways with its existing chief operating officer.

Rob Solomon, who was hired by Groupon just a year ago, is standing aside to allow it to recruit what he called "a nuts and bolts operator to make the trains run on time".

Bankers have told Groupon that having the right senior management team in place will be vital if it is to command the lofty valuation it hopes to achieve in a flotation, which could come later this year.

The company, based in Chicago, raised $950m (£584.8m) from venture capitalists last year when it was valued at $4.7bn, but recent reports suggest it could float at a valuation of up to $25bn thanks to its strong growth. The company turned down a $6bn takeover bid from Google.

Although Groupon's finances are opaque, it is believed to have made revenues of $760m last year and to be on course for at least $3bn in 2011. The company has grown from 200 employees when Mr Solomon joined in March 2010 to around 6,000 now.

"I'm great at a lot of things," he told Bloomberg News after his resignation was made public. "But I'm not the guy who wants to run a 10,000-person company. I'm much better at the startup and growth stage."

Mr Solomon joined Groupon before it was 18 months old from Technology Crossover Ventures, a California investment firm. Before that he held a string of Silicon Valley posts including chief executiveships of start-up tech companies and a six-year stint running Yahoo's online shopping business.

Analysts said that finding a heavyweight replacement for Mr Solomon will be important for the success of a flotation. Last month, it was reported that Groupon had tried to poach Jason Kilar, chief executive of Hulu, a US internet television venture, to run its international operations.

Groupon was founded and is still run by Andrew Mason, a 30-year-old former music student.

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