Tuesday, 10 May 2011

#24 Groupon

Few corporate success stories offer better proof of the Western world's enduring sinistry than the rise of Groupon. The website is said to be preparing an IPO valuing it at $25bn. Consider the creepiness of the services the company provides, and you begin to realise just how dark a world we are living in.

It seems harmless enough. Every day users of the site simply receive a couple of emails. But all is not what it seems. These missives arrive in the dead of night, like storks delivering babies, or Scooterman (on whom more later). Each advertises a special one-off deal, more often than not an activity suitable only for someone using a date to counteract crippling natural deficiencies. As a general life rule, the suffix 'for two' should be avoided wherever possible.

If you think this is an exaggeration, some recent examples speak for themselves: Thai massage, woodworking, sleep-pod relaxation, Garra-rufa fish pedicure, go-karting, hang-gliding lessons, Brazilian blow-dry, falconry. I say again: falconry.

On one hand it is probably healthy that these eerie niche pursuits be taken out of the hands of idle trust-funders and Geography teachers from match.com. On the other, however, this democratisation not only makes it easier but - thanks to its deposit/voucher system - actually entices the dilletante to take someone on a creepy night out. It encourages people to do, in pairs, things they wouldn't normally dream of doing but which 'sound nice' when presented in the right way.

In short, it is a factory of sinistry: $25bn of dark feeling the world was quite happy without.

Attic Rating: 7.8

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