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EX-10.15 - EXHIBIT 10.15 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit1015-201710xk.htm
EX-23.2 - EXHIBIT 23.2 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit232-201710xkeychica.htm
EX-32.1 - EXHIBIT 32.1 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit321-201710xk.htm
EX-31.2 - EXHIBIT 31.2 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit312-201710xk.htm
EX-31.1 - EXHIBIT 31.1 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit311-201710xk.htm
EX-23.3 - EXHIBIT 23.3 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit233-201710xkeykorea.htm
EX-23.1 - EXHIBIT 23.1 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit231-201710xkdeloitt.htm
EX-21.1 - EXHIBIT 21.1 - Groupon, Inc.exhibit211-201710xk.htm
UNITED STATES
SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20549

FORM 10-K
ANNUAL REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017
 
OR
 
TRANSITION REPORT PURSUANT TO SECTION 13 OR 15(d) OF THE
SECURITIES EXCHANGE ACT OF 1934
For the transition period from ________________ to ________________

Commission file number: 1-35335

Groupon, Inc.
(Exact name of registrant as specified in its charter)
Delaware
 
27-0903295
(State or other jurisdiction of
 
(I.R.S. Employer
incorporation or organization)
 
Identification No.)
 
 
 
600 West Chicago Avenue, Suite 400
Chicago, Illinois
 
60654
(Address of principal executive offices)
 
(Zip Code)

312-334-1579
(Registrant's telephone number, including area code)

Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(b) of the Act:
Title of each class
 
Name of each exchange on which registered
Common Stock, par value $0.0001
 
Nasdaq Global Select Market
Securities registered pursuant to Section 12(g) of the Act: None

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is a well-known seasoned issuer, as defined in Rule 405 of the Securities Act.         

Yes x 
No ¨  

Indicate by check mark if the registrant is not required to file reports pursuant to Section 13 or Section 15(d) of the Act.    

Yes ¨            No x 

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant (1) has filed all reports required to be filed by Section 13 or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to file such reports), and (2) has been subject to such filing requirements for the past 90 days.     

Yes x             No ¨
  
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant has submitted electronically and posted on its corporate website, if any, every Interactive Data File required to be submitted and posted pursuant to Rule 405 of Regulation S-T (§ 232.405 of this chapter) during the preceding 12 months (or for such shorter period that the registrant was required to submit and post such files).     
    
Yes  x             No ¨


Indicate by check mark if disclosure of delinquent filers pursuant to Item 405 of Regulation S-K (§ 229.405 of this chapter) is not contained herein, and will not be contained, to the best of registrant's knowledge, in definitive proxy or information statements incorporated by reference in Part III of this Form 10-K or any amendment to this Form 10-K. o

Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a large accelerated filer, an accelerated filer, a non-accelerated filer, a smaller reporting company, or an emerging growth company. See the definitions of "large accelerated filer," "accelerated filer," "smaller reporting company," and "emerging growth company" in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act.

Large accelerated filer x                           Accelerated filer ¨
        
Non-accelerated filer (Do not check if a smaller reporting company) ¨    Smaller reporting company ¨

Emerging growth company ¨
If an emerging growth company, indicate by check mark if the registrant has elected not to use the extended transition period for complying with any new or revised financial accounting standards provided pursuant to Section 13(a) of the Exchange Act. ☐
Indicate by check mark whether the registrant is a shell company (as defined in Rule 12b-2 of the Exchange Act).        

Yes ¨             No  x 

As of June 30, 2017, the aggregate market value of shares held by non-affiliates of the registrant was $1,597,986,820 based on the number of shares of common stock held by non-affiliates as of June 30, 2017 and based on the last reported sale price of the registrant's common stock on June 30, 2017.

As of February 12, 2018, there were 561,532,375 shares of the registrant's common stock outstanding.


DOCUMENTS INCORPORATED BY REFERENCE

The information required by Part III of this Report, to the extent not set forth herein, is incorporated herein by reference from the registrant's definitive proxy statement relating to the Annual Meeting of Stockholders to be held in 2018, which definitive proxy statement shall be filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission within 120 days after the end of the fiscal year to which this Report relates.



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TABLE OF CONTENTS
PART I
Page
Forward-Looking Statements
Item 1. Business
Item 1A. Risk Factors
Item 1B. Unresolved Staff Comments
Item 2. Properties
Item 3. Legal Proceedings
Item 4. Mine Safety Disclosures
PART II
 
Item 5. Market for Registrant's Common Equity, Related Stockholder Matters and Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
Item 6. Selected Financial Data
Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations
Item 7A. Quantitative and Qualitative Disclosure about Market Risk
Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data
Item 9. Changes in and Disagreements With Accountants on Accounting and Financial Disclosure
Item 9A. Controls and Procedures
Item 9B. Other Information
PART III
 
Item 10. Directors, Executive Officers and Corporate Governance
Item 11. Executive Compensation
Item 12. Security Ownership of Certain Beneficial Owners and Management and Related Stockholder Matters
Item 13. Certain Relationships and related Transactions, and Director Independence
Item 14. Principal Accountant Fees and Services
Part IV
 
Item 15. Exhibits and Financial Statement Schedule

______________________________________________________




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PART I
FORWARD-LOOKING STATEMENTS
This Annual Report on Form 10-K contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, including statements regarding our future results of operations and financial position, business strategy and plans and our objectives for future operations. The words "may," "will," "should," "could," "expect," "anticipate," "believe," "estimate," "intend," "continue" and other similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. We have based these forward looking statements largely on current expectations and projections about future events and financial trends that we believe may affect our financial condition, results of operations, business strategy, short-term and long-term business operations and objectives, and financial needs. These forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could cause our actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied in our forward-looking statements. Such risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, risk related to volatility in our operating results; execution of our business and marketing strategies; retaining existing customers and adding new customers; challenges arising from our international operations, including fluctuations in currency exchange rates, legal and regulatory developments and any potential adverse impact from the United Kingdom's likely exit from the European Union; retaining and adding high quality merchants; our voucherless offerings; cybersecurity breaches; competing successfully in our industry; changes to merchant payment terms; providing a strong mobile experience for our customers; maintaining our information technology infrastructure; delivery and routing of our emails; claims related to product and service offerings; managing inventory and order fulfillment risks; litigation; managing refund risks; retaining and attracting members of our executive team; completing and realizing the anticipated benefits from acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures and strategic investments; lack of control over minority investments; tax liabilities; tax legislation; compliance with domestic and foreign laws and regulations, including the CARD Act, GDPR and regulation of the Internet and e-commerce; classification of our independent contractors; protecting our intellectual property; maintaining a strong brand; customer and merchant fraud; payment-related risks; our ability to raise capital if necessary and our outstanding indebtedness; global economic uncertainty; our common stock, including volatility in our stock price; our senior convertible notes; our ability to realize the anticipated benefits from the hedge and warrant transactions; and those risks and other factors discussed in Item 1A. Risk Factors of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, as well as in our consolidated financial statements, related notes, and the other financial information appearing elsewhere in this report and our other filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, or the SEC. Moreover, we operate in a very competitive and rapidly changing environment. New risks emerge from time to time. It is not possible for our management to predict all risks, nor can we assess the impact of all factors on our business or the extent to which any factor, or combination of factors, may cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in any forward-looking statements we may make. We do not intend, and undertake no obligation, to update any of our forward-looking statements after the date of this report to reflect actual results or future events or circumstances. Given these risks and uncertainties, readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on such forward-looking statements.
As used herein, "Groupon," "we," "our," and similar terms include Groupon, Inc. and its subsidiaries, unless the context indicates otherwise.
ITEM 1: BUSINESS
Overview
Groupon is a global leader in local commerce, making it easy for people around the world to search and discover great businesses and merchandise. Our vision is to connect local commerce, increasing consumer buying power while driving more business to merchants through price and discovery. We want Groupon to be the destination that consumers check first when they are out and about; the place they start when they are looking to buy just about anything, anywhere, anytime. We provide consumers with savings and help them discover what to do, eat, see, buy and where to travel. By bringing the brick and mortar world of local commerce onto the Internet, Groupon is helping local merchants to attract customers and sell goods and services.
Groupon operates online local commerce marketplaces throughout the world that connect merchants to consumers by offering goods and services, generally at a discount. Consumers access those marketplaces through our websites, primarily localized groupon.com sites in many countries, and our mobile applications. More than two-thirds of the transactions on our platform are completed on mobile devices.
Our operations are organized into two segments: North America and International. We offer goods and services through our marketplaces in three primary categories: Local Deals ("Local"), Groupon Goods ("Goods") and Groupon Getaways ("Travel").


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We act as a marketing agent primarily by selling vouchers ("Groupons") that can be redeemed for products or services with third-party merchants. We also sell merchandise inventory directly to customers.
Our results from 2017 were impacted by the strategic initiatives discussed in Item 7, Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations. Those results include the following:
Gross billings decreased to $5.6 billion in 2017, as compared to $5.7 billion in 2016. In 2017, 69.6% and 30.4% of our gross billings were generated in North America and International, respectively, as compared to 69.2% and 30.8% in 2016. Gross billings represent the total dollar value of customer purchases of goods and services. Gross billings differs from our revenue, which is presented net of the merchant's share of the transaction price for transactions in which we act as a third-party marketing agent. Gross billings and revenue are the same for transactions in which we sell merchandise inventory directly to customers.
Revenue decreased to $2.8 billion in 2017, as compared to $3.0 billion in 2016. In 2017, 67.3% and 32.7% of our revenue was generated in North America and International, respectively, as compared to 71.4% and 28.6% in 2016.
Gross profit of $1.3 billion in 2017 was consistent with the prior year. In 2017, 69.5% and 30.5% of our gross profit was generated in North America and International, respectively, as compared to 69.1% and 30.9% in 2016.
Income from operations was $29.4 million in 2017, as compared to a loss from operations of $100.2 million in 2016.
The number of active customers, which is defined as unique user accounts that have made a purchase within the last 12 months either through one of our online marketplaces or directly with a merchant for which we earned a commission, increased to 49.5 million as of December 31, 2017 from 47.9 million as of December 31, 2016.
We are a Delaware corporation, incorporated on January 15, 2008 under the name "ThePoint.com, Inc." We started Groupon in October 2008 and officially changed our name to Groupon, Inc. by filing an amended certificate of incorporation on June 16, 2009. Our principal executive offices are located at 600 West Chicago Avenue, Suite 400, Chicago, Illinois 60654, and our telephone number at this address is (312) 334-1579. Our investor relations department can be reached through our investor relations hotline, which is (312) 999-3098. Our website is www.groupon.com. Information contained on our website is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. We completed our initial public offering in November 2011 and our common stock is listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the symbol "GRPN."
GROUPON, the GROUPON logo and other GROUPON-formative marks are trademarks of Groupon, Inc. in the United States or other countries. This Annual Report on Form 10-K also includes other trademarks of Groupon and trademarks of other persons.
Our Strategy
Our goal is to continue to build marketplaces that our customers rely on to discover and save on amazing things to do, eat, see, buy and where to travel. Key elements of our strategy for 2018 include the following:
Grow long-term customer value. Our activities to grow long-term customer value are primarily focused on initiatives to improve the customer experience and marketing activities. We intend to improve the customer experience by continuing to invest in new products and technologies that will create a frictionless experience for our customers and merchants. As we continue to build out our marketplaces, we want our customers to have a superior, frictionless experience when they use our product whether finding, booking, buying or redeeming an offer. For merchants, this includes providing capabilities to manage demand for their goods and services and improving their ability to acquire customers. For consumers, this includes easily finding offers and accessing features that augment the overall experience, as well as seamlessly purchasing and redeeming offers. We are currently investing in initiatives to improve the purchase and redemption experience, such as enhancing our mobile applications, testing offerings with voucherless redemption resulting in cash back directly to customers' credit cards, which we refer to as Groupon+, and adding direct booking tools, including for health and beauty offerings. We believe that those initiatives may ultimately increase customer purchase frequency and drive growth in our business. Our marketing activities are critical to our ability to increase our global active customer base and improve gross profit per customer. We significantly increased our global marketing spend throughout 2016 and 2017 in order to drive customer growth and we expect that trend to continue. Our online marketing campaigns are primarily focused on customer acquisition, customer retention and driving repeat purchase behavior. We are focusing our offline


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advertising activities on developing our brand strength and increasing awareness of our product and service offerings. We also use order discounts and other promotional initiatives to drive customer acquisition, activation and purchasing activity.
Building out a more extensive local commerce marketplace platform. We ultimately want Groupon to become a daily habit for our customers. In order to achieve that long-term aspiration, we believe that we need to significantly increase the offerings available through our online local commerce marketplaces to ensure that our customers can consistently find what they are looking for. Our initiatives to grow our inventory of deal offerings include entering into commercial agreements with third parties that enable us to feature additional merchant offerings through our marketplaces, identifying new distribution channels through which to sell our marketplace offerings and launching an internal initiative to optimize the activities performed by our sales teams. Additionally, we believe that our efforts to increase our active customer base and improve gross profit per customer may improve the health of our marketplaces, making our marketing and promotional services more effective for the merchants who feature offerings on our platform.
Unlocking the potential of our international markets. From 2015 to 2017, we reduced our global operating footprint from 47 countries to the 15 core countries that we believe have the greatest potential to favorably impact our results of operations. The gross profit generated by our International segment represented only 30.5% of our consolidated gross profit in 2017, and we are maintaining a long-term focus on driving International to ultimately achieve gross profit that is more comparable to North America. Our initiatives to grow International gross profit include increasing our international marketing spending, investing in more technology resources in order to expand and advance its product and service offerings, growing our inventory of deal offerings by entering into commercial agreements with third parties that enable us to feature additional merchant offerings through our marketplaces and other initiatives.
Our Business
We earn revenue from transactions in which we provide marketing services primarily by selling vouchers through our online local marketplaces that can be redeemed for goods or services with third-party merchants. Our third-party revenue from those transactions is reported on a net basis as the purchase price received from the customer for the voucher less an agreed upon portion of the purchase price paid to the merchant. We also earn revenue by selling merchandise inventory directly to customers through our online marketplaces. Our direct revenue from those transactions is the purchase price received from the customer.
Our business model has evolved in recent years from primarily an email-based "push" model with a limited number of deals offered at any given time to more extensive online "pull" marketplaces, where customers can come to Groupon's websites and mobile applications to search and browse for deals on goods and services. We also publish ratings and helpful tips from customers to highlight the unique aspects of local merchants, including merchants that have featured offerings through our marketplaces.    
We offer goods and services through our online local marketplaces in three primary categories: Local, Goods and Travel. Collectively, Local and Travel comprise our "Services" offerings and Goods reflects our product offerings.

Local. Our Local category includes offerings from local and national merchants, as well as local events. Local also includes other revenue sources such as commission revenue and advertising revenue, as these revenue sources are primarily generated through our relationships with local and national merchants. Our local offerings comprise multiple subcategories, including events and activities, beauty and spa, health and fitness, food and drink, home and garden and automotive. National merchants also have used our marketplaces as an alternative to traditional marketing and brand advertising. Although our business today is weighted toward offerings from local merchants, we continue to feature offerings from national merchants to build our brand awareness, acquire new customers and generate additional revenue. In addition to local and national deals, we give consumers the ability to access digital coupons from thousands of retailers through our Coupons offering. We also offer deals on concerts, sports, theater and other live entertainment events. We are increasingly featuring offerings on our site from other online marketplaces to further expand local offerings.

Goods. In our Goods category, we earn direct revenue from transactions in which we sell merchandise inventory directly to customers, as well as third-party revenue from transactions in which third-party merchants sell products to customers through our marketplaces. Our Goods category offers customers the ability to find discounted merchandise across multiple product lines, including electronics, sporting goods, jewelry, toys, household items and apparel. We expect that we will continue to add new brands to our platform in order to expand our offerings.

Travel. Through our Travel category, we feature travel offers at both discounted and market rates, including hotels, airfare and package deals covering both domestic and international travel. For many of our travel offerings, the customer must contact


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the merchant directly to make a travel reservation after purchasing a travel voucher from us. However, for some of our hotel offerings, customers make room reservations directly through our websites.

Distribution
Our customers access our online local commerce marketplaces through our mobile applications and our websites, which primarily consist of localized groupon.com sites in countries throughout the world. We use a variety of marketing channels to direct customers to the deal offerings available through these marketplaces, as described in the Marketing section below.

Consumers predominately access our offerings through our mobile applications and, to a lesser extent, through mobile web browsers. Our applications and mobile websites enable consumers to browse, purchase, manage and redeem deals on their mobile devices. In addition, the mobile experience leverages location in several ways, enabling consumers to filter by distance, discover deals near them and visualize the assortment of Groupon offers through a maps view. In the fourth quarter of 2017, over 69% of our global transactions were completed on mobile devices.

Marketing
We primarily use marketing to acquire customers and promote awareness of our marketplaces and the services and product offerings available through those marketplaces. Consequently, marketing is an important part of our growth strategy and remains a key element of our business operations. We increased our global marketing spend by $48.7 million, or 13.8%, for the year ended December 31, 2017 as compared to the prior period. We expect to continue to invest in marketing in future periods in connection with our efforts to increase active customers and customer purchase frequency.

We use a variety of marketing channels to make customers aware of the deal offerings on our mobile and web platforms, including search engines, email and push notifications, affiliate channels, social and display advertising and offline marketing, which increased significantly during 2017.

Search engines. Customers can access our deal offerings indirectly through third-party search engines. We use search engine optimization ("SEO") and marketing ("SEM") to increase the visibility of our offerings in web search results.

Email and push notifications. In North America and most of our international markets, we use targeting technology to determine which deal offerings to communicate to our subscribers based on their locations and personal preferences. A subscriber who clicks on a deal offering within an email or push notification is directed to our website or mobile application to learn more about the deal and be able to make a purchase.

Affiliate channels. We have an affiliate program that utilizes third parties to promote our deal offerings online. Affiliates earn commissions when customers access our deal offerings through links on their websites and make purchases on our platform. We expect to continue to leverage affiliate relationships to extend the distribution of our deals to a broad base of potential customers.

Social and display. We publish deals through various social networks and adapt our notifications to the particular format of each of these social networking platforms. Our websites and mobile application interfaces enable consumers to share deal offerings with their personal social networks. We also promote our deal offerings using display advertising on websites.

Television and other offline. In 2017, we significantly increased the extent to which we use offline marketing such as television advertising, and to a lesser extent, print and radio advertising.

Our marketing activities also include elements that are not presented as Marketing on our consolidated statements of operations, such as order discounts and free shipping on qualifying merchandise sales.



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Sales and Operations
Our sales force consists of approximately 2,400 merchant sales representatives and sales support staff, who build merchant relationships and provide local expertise. Our North American merchant sales representatives and support staff are primarily based in our offices in Chicago and Phoenix, and our international merchant sales representatives and support staff are based in their respective local offices. Our global sales and sales support headcount by segment as of December 31, 2017 was as follows:
North America
872

International
1,535

Total
2,407

Other key operational functions include deal managers, editorial, merchant services, customer service, technology, merchandising and logistics. Deal managers work with sales teams to optimize deal structure and pricing, as well as manage the category, discount and geographic mix of deals in their respective markets. Our editorial department is responsible for creating the written and visual content on the deals we offer. Merchant services representatives work with merchants to plan for increased customer traffic before an offering is active and serve as an ongoing point of contact for the merchant over the term of a deal. Our customer service department is responsible for answering questions received via phone, email and on public discussion boards regarding purchases, shipping status, returns and other areas of customer inquiry. Our technology team is focused on the design and development of new features and products, maintenance of our websites and development and maintenance of our internal systems. Merchandising and logistics personnel are responsible for managing inventory and the flow of products from suppliers to our customers.

Our websites are hosted at two U.S. data centers in California and at an international data center in Ireland. Our data centers host our public-facing websites and applications, as well as our back-end business intelligence systems. We employ security practices to protect and maintain the systems located at our data centers. We have invested in intrusion and anomaly detection tools to try to recognize intrusions to our websites. We engage independent third-party Internet security firms to regularly test the security of our websites and identify vulnerabilities. In financial transactions with customers conducted on our websites and mobile applications, we use data encryption protocols to secure information while in transit. See Risk Factors for additional information relating to cyber threats.

Competition
Our business is rapidly evolving and we face competition from a variety of sources. Some of our competitors offer deals as an add-on to their core business, and others have adopted a business model similar to ours. We also compete against companies that offer other types of advertising and promotional services to local businesses. In addition to such competitors, we expect to increasingly compete against other large Internet and technology-based businesses that have launched initiatives that are directly competitive to our core business. Such competitors may be much larger companies who have more resources and significantly greater scale. We also expect to compete against other Internet sites that are focused on specific communities or interests and offer coupons or discount arrangements related to such communities or interests. Further, as our business continues to evolve, we anticipate facing new competition. We believe the principal competitive factors in our markets include the following:

quality and performance of our merchants;
size and composition of our customer base;
mobile penetration;
understanding of local business trends;
ability to structure deal offerings to generate a positive return on investment for merchants;
ability to generate large volumes of sales; and
reputation, strength and recognition of brand.


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Although we believe that we compete favorably on the factors described above and benefit from scale, we anticipate that larger, more established companies may directly compete with us over time. Many of our current and potential competitors have longer operating histories, significantly greater financial, technical, marketing and other resources and larger customer bases than we do. These factors may allow our competitors to benefit from their existing customer base with lower acquisition costs or to respond more quickly than we can to new or emerging technologies and changes in customer requirements. These competitors may engage in more extensive research and development efforts, undertake more far-reaching marketing campaigns and adopt more aggressive pricing policies, which may allow them to build a larger subscriber base or to monetize that subscriber base more effectively than we do. Our competitors may develop products or services that are similar to our products and services or that achieve greater market acceptance than our products and services.

Seasonality
Some of our offerings experience seasonal buying patterns mirroring that of the larger consumer retail and e-commerce markets, where demand declines during customary summer vacation periods and increases during the fourth quarter holiday season. We believe that this seasonality pattern has affected, and will continue to affect, our business and quarterly sequential revenue growth rates. We recognized 30.7%, 30.0% and 29.7% of our annual revenue during the fourth quarter of 2017, 2016 and 2015, respectively.

Regulation

    We are subject to a number of foreign and domestic laws and regulations that affect companies conducting business on the Internet. Additionally, those laws and regulations may be interpreted differently across domestic and foreign jurisdictions. As a company in a relatively new and rapidly innovating industry, we are exposed to the risk that many of those laws may evolve or be interpreted by regulators or in the courts in ways that could materially affect our business. Those laws and regulations may involve taxation, unclaimed property, intellectual property, product liability, travel, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, competition, consumer protection, the provision of various online payment services, employee, merchant and customer privacy and data security or other areas.

The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 (the "CARD Act"), as well as the laws of most states, contain provisions governing gift cards, gift certificates, stored value or pre-paid cards or coupons ("gift cards"). Groupon vouchers may be included within the definition of "gift cards" under many laws. In addition, certain foreign jurisdictions have laws that govern disclosure and certain product terms and conditions, including restrictions on expiration dates and fees, that may apply to Groupon vouchers. There are also a number of legislative proposals pending before the U.S. Congress, various state legislative bodies and foreign governments that could affect us, and our global operations may be constrained by regulatory regimes and laws in Europe and other jurisdictions outside the United States that may be more restrictive and adversely impact our business.
Various U.S. laws and regulations, such as the Bank Secrecy Act of 1970 (the "Bank Secrecy Act"), the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the USA PATRIOT Act and the CARD Act impose certain anti-money laundering requirements on companies that are financial institutions or that provide financial products and services. Those laws and regulations broadly define financial institutions to include money services businesses such as money transmitters, check cashers and sellers or issuers of stored value. Requirements imposed on financial institutions under those laws include customer identification and verification programs, record retention policies and procedures and transaction reporting. We do not believe that we are a financial institution subject to those laws and regulations.
We are subject to a variety of federal, state and international laws and regulations governing consumer data. The General Data Protection Regulation ("GDPR"), which was recently adopted by the European Union and will become effective in May 2018, requires companies to satisfy new requirements regarding the handling of personal and sensitive data, including its collection, use, protection and the ability of persons whose data is stored to correct or delete such data about themselves. Complying with the GDPR is expected to cause us to update certain business practices and systems. Non-compliance with GDPR could result in proceedings against us by governmental entities or others and fines up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues.
Intellectual Property
We protect our intellectual property rights by relying on federal, state and common law rights, as well as contractual restrictions. We control access to our proprietary technology by entering into confidentiality and invention assignment agreements with our employees and contractors, and confidentiality agreements with third parties.
                In addition to those contractual arrangements, we also rely on a combination of trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, service marks, trade dress, domain names and patents to protect our intellectual property. Groupon and its related entities own a


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number of trademarks and service marks registered or pending in the United States and internationally. In addition, we own a number of issued patents and pending patent applications in the United States and internationally and own and have applied for copyright registrations.
                Circumstances outside our control could pose a threat to our intellectual property rights and the efforts we have taken to protect our proprietary rights may not be sufficient or effective or deter independent development of equivalent or superior intellectual property rights by others. Any significant impairment of our intellectual property rights could harm our business or our ability to compete. Also, protecting our intellectual property rights is costly and time-consuming. Any unauthorized disclosure or use of our intellectual property could make it more expensive to do business and harm our operating results.
                Companies in the Internet, technology and other industries as well as non-practicing entities may own large numbers of patents, copyrights and trademarks or other intellectual property rights and may request license agreements, threaten litigation or file suit against us based on allegations of infringement or other violations of intellectual property rights. We are currently subject to, and expect to face in the future, lawsuits and allegations that we have infringed the intellectual property rights of third parties. As our business grows, we will likely face more claims of infringement, and may experience an adverse result which could impact our business and/or our operating results.

We have received in the past, and we anticipate we will receive in the future, communications alleging that items offered or sold through our website infringe third-party copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade names or other intellectual property rights or that we have otherwise infringed third parties’ past, current or future intellectual property rights. We may be unable to prevent third parties from offering and selling unlawful or infringing goods or goods of disputed authenticity, and we may be subject to allegations of civil or criminal liability for unlawful activities carried out by third parties through our website. We may implement measures in an effort to protect against these potential liabilities that could require us to spend substantial resources and/or to reduce revenues by discontinuing certain service offerings. Any costs incurred as a result of liability or asserted liability relating to the sale of unlawful goods or the unlawful sale of goods could harm our business.

Employees
    As of December 31, 2017, there were 2,639 employees in our North America segment, consisting of 872 sales representatives and 1,767 corporate, operational and customer service representatives, and 4,033 employees in our International segment, consisting of 1,535 sales representatives and 2,498 corporate, operational and customer service representatives.
Executive Officers
The following table sets forth information about our executive officers:
Name
 
Age
Position
 
 
 
Rich Williams
43
Chief Executive Officer and Director
Michael Randolfi
45
Chief Financial Officer
Steve Krenzer
59
Chief Operating Officer
Dane Drobny
50
General Counsel and Corporate Secretary
Brian Stevens
43
Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer
Rich Williams has served as our Chief Executive Officer and a member of our Board of Directors since November 2015. Prior to this role, Mr. Williams served as our Chief Operating Officer since June 2015 and President of North America since October 2014. He joined the Company in June 2011 as Senior Vice President of Marketing. Prior to joining Groupon, Mr. Williams served in a variety of marketing leadership roles at Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) from January 2008 to June 2011, most recently as the Director, Paid Traffic leading global advertising. Prior to joining Amazon, he spent nearly seven years in sales and marketing leadership roles at Experian plc (LSE: EXPN), a global information services company.
Michael Randolfi has served as our Chief Financial Officer since April 2016. Prior to joining Groupon, Mr. Randolfi served as the Chief Financial Officer of Orbitz Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE: OWW) from March 2013 until November 2015 (when he departed following its acquisition by Expedia, Inc.). Prior to joining Orbitz, Mr. Randolfi served as Vice President and then as Senior Vice President and Controller at Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) from February 2008 to February 2013. From June 1999 to February 2008, he held various executive positions at Delta Air Lines in financial planning and analysis, controllership and treasury.


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Prior to his 14-year career at Delta, Mr. Randolfi held positions with Continental Airlines (NYSE: UAL) and Raymond James and Associates (NYSE: RJF). Mr. Randolfi is a CPA and a certified management accountant.
Steve Krenzer has served as our Chief Operating Officer since November 2017. Prior to joining Groupon, Mr. Krenzer was the Chief Executive Officer of Core Digital Media, Inc. from October 2012 to November 2017. From November 1996 to October 2012, Mr. Krenzer held a variety of senior executive positions at Experian (LSE: EXPN), ultimately serving as President of Interactive Media.
Dane Drobny has served as our General Counsel and Corporate Secretary since July 2014. Prior to joining Groupon, Mr. Drobny was Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Corporate Secretary at Sears Holdings Corporation (NASDAQ: SHLD) from May 2010 to June 2014. Prior to joining Sears Holdings, he spent 17 years at the international law firm of Winston & Strawn LLP, most recently as a partner. 
Brian Stevens has served as our Chief Accounting Officer and Treasurer since May 2016 and as our Chief Accounting Officer since September 2012. Prior to joining Groupon, Mr. Stevens spent 16 years with KPMG LLP, most recently as a partner. Mr. Stevens spent five years in KPMG's Department of Professional Practice and was a practice fellow at the Financial Accounting Standards Board from 2006 to 2008. Mr. Stevens is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and served on its Financial Reporting Executive Committee (FinREC) from November 2013 to January 2018.
Available Information
The Company electronically files reports with the SEC. The public may read and copy any materials the Company has filed with the SEC at the SEC's Public Reference Room at 100 F Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20549. The public may obtain information on the operation of the Public Reference Room by calling the SEC at 1-800-SEC-0330. In addition, the SEC maintains an Internet site (www.sec.gov) that contains reports, proxy and information statements and other information regarding issuers that file electronically with the SEC. Copies of the Company's Annual Report on Form 10-K, Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K and amendments to those reports filed or furnished pursuant to Section 13(a) or 15(d) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 are also available free of charge through the Company's website (www.groupon.com), as soon as reasonably practicable after electronically filing with or otherwise furnishing such information to the SEC, and are available in print to any stockholder who requests them. The Company's Code of Conduct, Corporate Governance Guidelines and committee charters are also posted on the site. The Company uses its Investor Relations website (investor.groupon.com) and its blog (www.groupon.com/blog) as a means of disclosing material non-public information and for complying with its disclosure obligations under Regulation FD. Information contained on our website and blog is not a part of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
ITEM 1A: RISK FACTORS
Our business, prospects, financial condition, operating results and the trading price of our common stock could be materially adversely affected by the risks described below. In assessing those risks, you should also refer to the other information contained in this Annual Report on Form 10-K, including Part II, Item 7. Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations (MD&A) and the consolidated financial statements and the related notes in Part II, Item 8. Financial Statements and Supplementary Data of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
Risks Related to Our Business
Our operating results may vary significantly from quarter to quarter.
Our operating results may vary significantly from quarter to quarter due to seasonality and other reasons such as the rapidly evolving nature of our business. We believe that our ability to achieve and maintain profitability will depend, among other factors, on our ability to:
acquire new customers and retain existing customers;
attract and retain quality merchants;
effectively address and respond to challenges in international markets;


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expand the number, variety and relevance of products and deals we offer, including through third party business partners and technology integrations, as we attempt to build a more complete local marketplace;
achieve additional mobile adoption to capitalize on customers' continued shift toward mobile device usage;
increase the awareness of our brand;
successfully achieve the anticipated benefits of business combinations or acquisitions, strategic investments, divestitures and restructuring activities;
provide a superior customer service experience for our customers;
avoid interruptions to our services, including as a result of attempted or successful cybersecurity attacks or breaches;
respond to continuous changes in consumer and merchant use of technology;
react to challenges from existing and new competitors;
respond to seasonal changes in supply and demand; and
address challenges from existing and new laws and regulations.
In addition, our margins and profitability may depend on our product sales mix, our geographic revenue mix and merchant pricing terms. In recent periods, we have shifted the focus of our offerings to our Local category, which tend to have a higher margin and more differentiation than our Goods category. We believe that this shift should provide us with a greater opportunity for long-term gross profit growth. If we are not successful in achieving this objective, our business, financial position and results of operations could be harmed. Further, sales in our Goods category may constitute a greater percentage of our sales in certain periods relative to other categories, which may result in lower margins and profitability during those periods. Accordingly, our profitability may vary significantly from quarter to quarter.
Our strategy to grow our business may not be successful and may expose us to additional risks.
Our strategy to grow our business focuses on several key priorities including increasing customer value, building out a more extensive local commerce marketplace platform, improving the customer experience and unlocking the potential of our international markets. We have undertaken several initiatives as we execute this strategy. For example, we have continued to invest in growth by increasing our marketing investment as we attempt to increase our active customer base, increase customer purchase frequency, improve brand awareness and introduce new products.
In addition, as we focus on building out a more extensive local commerce marketplace platform, we have also devoted significant resources to attracting new merchants, retaining merchants who are willing to run deals on a continuous basis with us and engaging with third-party business partners via technology integrations in order to build a significant inventory for our customers. We have accepted, and expect to continue to accept, a lower portion of the gross billings from some of our merchants and business partners as we expand our marketplaces and introduce new products. In addition, we are continuously refining our process for presenting the most relevant deals to our customers based on their personal preferences and location. We are also continuing our efforts to optimize the mix of products that we offer. If we are not successful in achieving these objectives, our business, financial position and results of operations could be harmed. Further, we have implemented technology integrations with a number of third party business partners that we rely on to support various products (such as Groupon+ and other voucherless offerings) and augment inventory across all categories of our business. Significant disruption in these services, or breakdown of these relationships, could negatively impact our ability to grow.
We also have prioritized building a great product and customer experience. To this end, we have continued to invest in improving the customer experience, from search to purchase to redemption, in removing friction from our websites and mobile applications and in product development. For example, Groupon+, our voucherless card-linked offer product, is a new frictionless offering that we believe will improve the customer experience. Additionally, we have continued to expand our direct booking offerings that allow for seamless mobile redemption. There are no assurances that Groupon+, our booking features, third party offerings and other new products and deal structures will be successful in improving the customer experience, increasing our customer and merchant base, or improving customer purchase frequency in the short term or at all. If we are unable to realize expected outcomes from Groupon+ and other new offerings and deal structures, our business and operating results may be harmed.


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With respect to our international markets, following the completion of our restructuring plan in 2017, we expect to continue to focus on improving our products and customer experience and applying our North American playbook to our International business. If we are unable to successfully execute these initiatives and unlock the potential of our international markets, our business and operating results may be harmed.
Our efforts to execute our strategy may prove more difficult than we currently anticipate, and we may not succeed in realizing the benefits of these efforts, including increasing gross profit, unit growth or gross profit per customer, in a short time frame or at all.
Our financial results may be adversely affected if we are unable to execute on our marketing strategy.
Our marketing strategy is focused on customer acquisition, activation and conversion, purchase frequency and mobile application downloads, as well as increasing awareness of our brand and online marketplaces and introducing consumers and merchants to new products. In furtherance of this strategy, we increased our marketing expense to $400.9 million during 2017 as compared to $352.2 million during 2016, and we expect our marketing spend to increase in 2018. We also expect to continue to focus on maintaining a payback period on our global marketing spend of approximately 12 to 18 months; however, there are no assurances that we will be able to achieve this result. If any of our assumptions regarding our marketing activities and strategies prove incorrect, including with respect to payback periods and the efficiency of our marketing spend, our ability to generate gross profit from our investments may be less than we anticipated. In such case, we may need to increase marketing expenditures or otherwise alter our strategy and our results of operations could be negatively impacted.
If we fail to retain our existing customers or acquire new customers, our operating results and business will be harmed.    
We must continue to retain and acquire customers who make purchases on our platform in order to increase profitability. Further, as our customer base evolves, the composition of our customers may change in a manner that makes it more difficult to generate revenue to offset the loss of existing customers and the costs associated with acquiring and retaining customers and to maintain or increase our customers’ purchase frequency. If customers do not perceive our offerings to be attractive or if we fail to introduce new and more relevant deals or increase awareness and understanding of the offerings on our marketplace platform, we may not be able to retain or acquire customers at levels necessary to grow our business and profitability. Further, the organic traffic to our websites and mobile applications, including traffic from consumers responding to our emails, has declined in recent years, such that an increasing proportion of our traffic is generated from paid marketing channels, such as search engine marketing. If we are unable to acquire new customers in numbers sufficient to grow our business and offset the number of existing active customers that have ceased to make purchases, or if new customers do not make purchases at expected levels, our profitability may decrease and our operating results may be adversely affected.
Our international operations are subject to varied and evolving commercial and regulatory challenges, and our inability to adapt to the diverse and changing landscapes of our international markets may adversely affect our business.
Our international operations require management attention and resources and also require us to localize our services to conform to a wide variety of local cultures, business practices, laws and policies. Our international operations are subject to numerous risks, including the following:
our ability to maintain merchant and customer satisfaction such that our marketplace will continue to attract high quality merchants;
our ability to successfully respond to macroeconomic challenges, including by optimizing our deal mix to take into account consumer preferences at a particular point in time;
political, economic and civil instability and uncertainty (including acts of terrorism, civil unrest, labor unrest, violence and outbreaks of war);
risks associated with the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union ("Brexit"), including volatility in worldwide and European financial markets, potential restrictions on the free movement of goods and labor between the United Kingdom and the European Union and other potential impediments to our ability to transact within and between each of the United Kingdom and the European Union;
currency exchange rate fluctuations;


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strong local competitors, who may better understand the local market and/or have greater resources in the local market;
different regulatory or other legal requirements, including regulation of gift cards and coupon terms, Internet services, professional selling, distance selling, bulk emailing, privacy and data protection (including GDPR, which will become effective in May 2018), cybersecurity, business licenses and certifications, taxation (including the European Union's voucher directive and similar regulations), consumer protection laws including those restricting the types of services we may offer (e.g., medical-related services), banking and money transmitting, that may limit or prevent the offering of our services in some jurisdictions, cause unanticipated compliance expenses or limit our ability to enforce contractual obligations;
our ability to use a common technology platform in our North America and International segments to operate our business without significant business interruptions or delays;
difficulties in integrating with local payment providers, including banks, credit and debit card networks and electronic funds transfer systems;
different employee/employer relationships and the existence and actions of workers' councils and labor unions;
difficulty in staffing, developing and managing foreign operations as a result of distance, language barriers and cultural differences;
shorter payment cycles and greater problems in collecting accounts receivable;
higher Internet service provider costs;
seasonal reductions in business activity;
expenses associated with localizing our products; and
differing intellectual property laws.
We are subject to complex foreign and U.S. laws and regulations that apply to our international operations, such as data privacy and protection requirements, including GDPR, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the UK Anti-Bribery Act and similar local laws prohibiting certain payments to government officials, banking and payment processing regulations and anti-competition regulations, among others. The cost of complying with these various, and sometimes conflicting, laws and regulations is substantial. We have implemented and continue to implement policies and procedures to ensure compliance with these laws and regulations, however, we cannot ensure that our employees, contractors, or agents will not violate our policies. Changing laws, regulations and enforcement actions in the United States and throughout the world could harm our business. If commercial and regulatory constraints in our international markets restrict our ability to conduct our operations or execute our strategic plan, our business may be adversely affected.
Our future success depends upon our ability to attract and retain high quality merchants.
We must continue to attract and retain high quality merchants in order to increase profitability. We depend on our ability to attract and retain merchants that are prepared to offer products or services on compelling terms through our marketplaces and provide our customers with a good experience. We do not have long-term arrangements to guarantee the availability of deals that offer attractive quality, value and variety to customers or favorable payment terms to us. If merchants decide that utilizing our services no longer provides an effective means of attracting new customers or selling their goods and services, they may stop working with us or negotiate to pay us lower margins or fees. In addition, current or future competitors may accept lower margins, or negative margins, to secure merchants offers that attract attention and acquire new customers. If competitors engage in group buying initiatives in which merchants receive a higher portion of the purchase price than we currently offer, or if we target merchants who will only agree to run deals if they receive a higher portion of the proceeds, we may receive a lower portion of the gross billings on deals offered through our marketplaces. In addition, we may experience attrition in our merchants due to shifts in our business model and the way we pay merchants, or in the ordinary course of business resulting from several factors, including losses to competitors and merchant closures or merchant bankruptcies. If we are unable to attract and retain high quality merchants in numbers sufficient to grow our business, or if merchants are unwilling to offer products or services with compelling terms through our marketplaces or offer favorable payment terms to us, our operating results may be adversely affected.


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Our business is exposed to risks associated with our voucherless offerings.
We are developing and scaling voucherless offerings, including offers that are linked to customer credit cards, through our Groupon+ product and direct booking deals in our Health, Beauty & Wellness and Things To Do categories. Although we believe that voucherless offerings have the potential to increase customer purchase frequency and generate gross profit growth over the long term, there are no assurances that we will be able to scale our voucherless products or that our voucherless products will be successful in increasing customer purchase frequency or gross profit growth, if and when scaled. If we are unable to grow the number of voucherless products in our marketplaces, our results of operations may be adversely affected. In addition, as we scale our Groupon+ product, including investment in efforts to increase customer awareness of Groupon+ offerings, we may experience a short term negative impact to our financial performance.
Further, we currently depend on third party business partners and technology integrations for many of our voucherless offerings. Specifically, our ability to offer Groupon+ currently depends on our arrangements with card brand networks. In the event any card brand network no longer supports our Groupon+ offerings or significantly changes their fee requirements in connection with this service, Groupon+ may not grow or may fail, and our results of operations and financial condition could be adversely affected.
Further, Groupon+ deals, which offer cash back to customers’ payment card statements based on qualifying purchases at participating merchants, involve the Company collecting fees from the merchant, rather than collecting payment from the customer and then remitting a portion of the proceeds to the merchant (as with the sale of vouchers). Accordingly, our gross billings are expected to be reduced if and when Groupon+ offerings (or similarly structured products) become a larger portion of our overall product mix.
We may be subject to breaches of our information technology systems, which could harm our relationships with our customers and merchants, subject us to negative publicity and litigation, and cause substantial harm to our business.
In operating a global online business, we and our third-party service providers maintain significant proprietary information and manage large amounts of personal data and confidential information about our employees, customers and merchants. We and such service providers are at constant risk of cyber-attacks or cyber intrusions via the Internet, computer viruses, break-ins, malware, phishing attacks, hacking, denial-of-service attacks or other attacks and similar disruptions from the unauthorized use of or access to computer systems (including from internal and external sources). These types of incidents have become more prevalent and pervasive across industries, including in our industry, and such attacks on our systems are expected to occur in the future. Further, we believe that we are a compelling target for such attacks as a result of the high profile of our brand and the amount and type of information we maintain relating to our customers and merchants. Any such incident could lead to interruptions, delays or website outages, causing loss of critical data or the unauthorized disclosure or use of personally identifiable or other confidential information.
Any failure to prevent or mitigate cybersecurity breaches or other improper access to, or disclosure of, our data or confidential information, including non-public financial information, could result in the loss or misuse of such data or information, negatively impacting customers’ and merchants’ confidence in the security of our services and potentially resulting in significant customer or merchant attrition, a decline in customer purchase frequency, litigation and/or regulatory investigations, and/or damage to our brand and reputation.
Our risk and exposure to these matters remains heightened because of, among other things, the evolving nature of these threats, our prominent size and scale, the large number of transactions that we process, our geographic footprint and international presence, our use of open source software, the complexity of our systems, the maturity of our systems, processes and risk management framework, our number of employees, the location of our businesses and data storage facilities, the jurisdictions in which we operate and the various and evolving laws and regulatory schemes governing data and data protection applicable to us, the extent to which our current systems, controls, processes and practices permit us to detect, log and monitor security events, our use of cloud based technologies and the outsourcing of some of our business operations.
Although cybersecurity and the continued development and enhancement of our controls, processes and practices designed to protect our systems, computers, software, data and networks from attack, damage or unauthorized access are a high priority for us, our activities and investment may not be deployed quickly enough or successfully protect our systems against all vulnerabilities, including technologies developed to bypass our security measures or zero day vulnerabilities. In addition, outside parties may attempt to fraudulently induce employees, merchants or customers to disclose access credentials or other sensitive information in order to gain access to our secure systems and networks. We also may be subject to additional vulnerabilities as we integrate the systems, computers, software and data of acquired businesses into our networks and separate the systems, computers, software and data of disposed businesses from our networks.


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We regularly evaluate and assess our systems and the controls, processes and practices to protect those systems and also conduct penetration testing against our own system. The evaluations, assessments and testing identify areas of potential weakness in, and suggested improvements to, the maturity of our systems, processes, and risk management framework as well as vulnerabilities in those systems, processes, and risk management framework that could be attacked and exploited to access and acquire proprietary and confidential information, including information about our customers and merchants. There are no assurances that our actions and investments to improve the maturity of our systems, processes and risk management framework or remediate vulnerabilities will be sufficient or completed quickly enough to prevent or limit the impact of any cyber intrusion. In addition, in the future we may be required to expend significant additional resources to modify or enhance our protective measures, controls and systems or to improve the maturity of our systems, processes and risk management framework, or investigate or remediate any information security vulnerabilities. These improvements, modifications and enhancements may take significant time to implement. Further, the sophistication of potential attacks or the capabilities of our systems and processes may not permit us to detect the occurrence of cyber incidents until significant data loss has occurred. Moreover, because the techniques used to gain access to or sabotage systems often are not recognized until launched against a target, we may be unable to anticipate the methods necessary to defend against these types of attacks and we cannot predict the extent, frequency or impact these problems may have on us. Any actual breach, the perceived threat of a breach or a perceived breach, could cause our customers, merchants, card brands and payment card processors to cease doing business with us or do business with us less frequently, subject us to lawsuits, investigations, regulatory fines or other action or liability or damage to our brand and reputation, which would harm our business, financial condition and results of operations.
We operate in a highly competitive industry with relatively low barriers to entry and must compete successfully in order to grow our business.
Competition in our industry may increase in future periods. A number of e-commerce sites that attempt to replicate our business model operate around the world. We also compete against companies that offer other types of advertising and promotional services to local businesses. In addition to such competitors, we may experience increased competition from other large businesses who offer deals similar to ours as an add-on to their core business. We also compete with other companies that offer digital coupons and/or card-linking services through their websites or mobile applications. Further, we compete against other e-commerce companies that serve niche markets and interests. In some of our categories, such as Goods and Travel, we compete against much larger companies who have more resources and significantly greater scale. In addition, we compete with traditional offline coupon and discount services, as well as newspapers, magazines and other traditional media companies who provide coupons and discounts on products and services.
We believe that our ability to compete successfully depends upon many factors both within and beyond our control, including the following:
the size, composition and retention of our customer base and the number of merchants we feature;
mobile penetration;
understanding local business trends;
ability to structure deals to generate positive return on investment for merchants;
the timing and market acceptance of deals we offer, including the developments and enhancements to those deals offered by us or our competitors;
customer and merchant service and support efforts;
selling and marketing efforts;
ease of use, performance, price and reliability of services offered either by us or our competitors;
our ability to improve customer purchase frequency;
our ability to drive organic traffic to our marketplaces;
the number, quality and reliability of the digital coupons that can be accessed through our platform;
the quality and performance of our merchants;


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our ability to cost-effectively manage our operations; and
our reputation and brand strength relative to our competitors.
Many of our current and potential competitors have longer operating histories, greater financial, marketing and other resources and larger customer bases than we do. These factors may allow our competitors to benefit from their existing customer base with lower customer acquisition costs or to respond more quickly than we can to new or emerging technologies and changes in consumer habits. In addition, our competitors may engage in more extensive research and development efforts, undertake more far-reaching marketing campaigns and adopt more aggressive pricing policies, which may allow them to build larger customer and/or merchant bases or generate revenue from their customer bases more effectively than we do. Our competitors may offer deals that are similar to the deals we offer or that achieve greater market acceptance than the deals we offer. This could attract customers away from our websites and mobile applications, reduce our market share and adversely impact our gross profit. In addition, we are dependent on some of our existing or potential competitors for display advertisements and other marketing initiatives to acquire new customers. Our ability to utilize their platforms to acquire new customers may be adversely affected if they choose to compete more directly with us or prevent us from using their services.
Our operating cash flow could be adversely impacted if we change our merchant payment terms.
Our merchant payment terms and revenue growth have historically provided us with operating cash flow to fund our working capital needs. Our merchant arrangements are generally structured such that we collect cash up front when our customers purchase vouchers or products on our website or mobile application and we make payments to merchants or suppliers at a subsequent date, either on a fixed schedule or upon redemption by customers. For Groupon+ deals, we offer cash back on customers' credit card statements based on qualifying purchases with participating merchants. For those offerings, we remit payment to a card brand network at the time of the qualifying purchase for the customer’s cash back incentive and then we collect from the merchant both our commission and reimbursement for the customer’s cash back incentive, generally on a bi-weekly basis. The working capital impact of Groupon+ offerings is less favorable to us than voucher transactions, for which we collect payment from customers at the time of sale and remit payment to merchants at a later date. We have used the operating cash flow provided by our merchant payment terms and revenue growth to fund our working capital needs. If we offer merchants more favorable or accelerated payment terms and/or scale our Groupon+ offerings, our operating cash flow could be adversely impacted and we may have to seek alternative financing to fund our working capital needs.
Our success is dependent upon our ability to provide a superior mobile experience for our customers and our customers' continued ability to access our offerings through mobile devices.
In the fourth quarter of 2017, over 69% of our global transactions were completed on mobile devices. Additionally, over 170.8 million people have downloaded our mobile applications worldwide as of December 31, 2017. In order to continue to grow our mobile transactions, it is critical that our applications are compatible with a range of mobile technologies, systems, networks and standards. As part of our growth strategy, we have been developing and testing a number of product enhancements that are intended to make our offerings easier to use for both customers and merchants, including voucherless offerings that are linked to customer credit cards. Our business may be adversely affected if our customers choose not to access our offerings on their mobile devices or use mobile devices that do not offer access to our mobile applications or if we fail to develop applications and produce enhancements with adequate functionality on a wide range of mobile devices.
Our business depends on our ability to maintain and improve the technology infrastructure necessary to send our emails and operate our websites, mobile applications and transaction processing systems, and any significant disruption in service on our email network infrastructure, websites, mobile applications or transaction processing systems could result in a loss of customers or merchants.
Customers access our marketplaces through our websites and mobile applications, as well as via emails that are often targeted by location, purchase history and personal preferences. Customers can also access our deal offerings indirectly through third-party search engines. Our reputation and ability to acquire, retain and serve our current and potential customers are dependent upon the reliable performance of our websites, mobile applications, email delivery and transaction processing systems and the underlying network infrastructure. Our systems may not be adequately designed with the necessary reliability and redundancy to avoid performance delays or outages that could be prolonged and harmful to our business. If our websites or mobile applications are unavailable when users attempt to access them, or if they do not load as quickly as expected, users may not return as often in the future, or at all. As our customer base and the amount of information shared on our websites and mobile applications continue to grow, we will need an increasing amount of network capacity and computing power. We have spent and expect to continue to spend substantial amounts on data centers and equipment and related network infrastructure and services to handle the traffic on our websites and mobile applications and to help shorten the time of or prevent system interruptions. The operation of these systems


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is expensive and complex and could result in operational failures. While resiliency and redundancy are considerations in the design and operation of Groupon's systems, interruptions, delays or failures in these systems, whether due to earthquakes, adverse weather conditions, other natural disasters, power loss, computer viruses, cybersecurity attacks, physical break-ins, terrorism, errors in our software or otherwise, could be prolonged and could affect the security or availability of our websites and applications, and prevent our customers from accessing our services. If we do not maintain or expand our network infrastructure successfully or if we experience operational failures or prolonged disruptions or delays in the availability of our systems or a significant search engine, we could lose current and potential customers and merchants, which could harm our operating results and financial condition.
In addition, a portion of our network infrastructure is hosted by third-party providers. We also rely on a variety of tools and third-party commercial partners to provide certain services and offerings (e.g., booking tools and food delivery offers). Any disruption or failure of these providers, tools and/or other third parties to handle existing or increased traffic and transactions could significantly harm our business. Any financial or other difficulties these providers face may adversely affect our business, and we exercise little control over these providers, which increases our vulnerability to problems with the services they provide.
If our emails are not delivered and accepted, or are routed by email providers less favorably than other emails, or our sites or mobile applications are not accessible, or are treated disadvantageously by Internet service providers, our business may be substantially harmed.
If email providers or Internet service providers ("ISPs") implement new or more restrictive email or content delivery or accessibility policies, including with respect to net neutrality, it may become more difficult to deliver emails to our customers or for customers to access our site and services. For example, certain email providers, including Google, categorize our emails as "promotional," and these emails are directed to an alternate, and less readily accessible, section of a customer's inbox. If email providers materially limit or halt the delivery of our emails, or if we fail to deliver emails to customers in a manner compatible with email providers’ email handling or authentication technologies, our ability to contact customers through email could be significantly restricted. In addition, if we are placed on "spam" lists or lists of entities that have been involved in sending unwanted, unsolicited emails, our operating results and financial condition could be substantially harmed. Further, if ISPs prioritize or provide superior access to our competitors' content, our business and results of operations may be negatively impacted.
We purchase and sell some products from indirect suppliers and allow third parties to sell products via our site and services, which increase our risk of litigation and other losses.
We source merchandise both directly from brand owners and indirectly from retailers and third-party distributors, and we often take title to the goods before we offer them for sale to our customers. Further, some brand owners, retailers and third- party distributors may be unwilling to offer products for sale on the Internet or through Groupon in particular, which could have an adverse impact on our ability to source and offer popular products. We also allow third party merchants to sell products to our customers via our marketplace platform. By selling merchandise sourced from parties other than the brand owners, and allowing the sale of merchandise by third parties, we are subject to an increased risk that the merchandise may be damaged or of disputed authenticity, which could result in potential liability under applicable laws, regulations, agreements and orders, and increase the amount of returned merchandise or customer refunds. In addition, brand owners or regulators may take legal action against us. Even if we prevail, any such legal action could result in costly litigation, generate adverse publicity for us, and have a material adverse impact on our business, financial condition and results of operations, brand and reputation. Further, in any such matter, we may not be entitled to indemnification from our supplier or merchant, or able to effectively enforce the supplier’s or merchant’s contractual indemnification obligations.
We may be subject to substantial liability claims and damage to our brand and reputation if people or property are harmed by the products or services offered through our marketplace.
Some of the products and services offered through our marketplace may expose us to liability claims relating to personal injury, death, negligence, intentional misconduct, assault, abuse or environmental or property damage. Certain merchants and third parties sell products and offer services using our marketplace that based on the type of product or service may increase our exposure to substantial claims and litigation, especially if these sellers do not have sufficient protection from such claims. Although we maintain liability insurance, we cannot be certain that our coverage will apply to the claims at issue, be adequate for liabilities actually incurred or that insurance will continue to be available to us on economically reasonable terms, or at all. In addition, some of our agreements with vendors, merchants and third-party sellers do not indemnify us from certain liability and costs or we may not be able to effectively enforce our contractual indemnification rights. Claims relating to products or services offered through our marketplace also could result in significant damage to our brand and reputation regardless of whether we are ultimately liable for any such claims.


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Our processes and procedures for onboarding merchants also may expose us to liability claims or damage to our brand and reputation if the processes or procedures are deemed inadequate. Additionally, while we maintain multiple channels through which our customers can submit feedback or complaints about their experiences with merchants and other third-party sellers on our platform, because our customers often deal directly with the sellers, pertinent feedback may not be provided to us. Moreover, our evaluation of any customer feedback or complaints we receive is subjective based on the information, sometimes very limited, that our customers provide, and we may not take action in response to feedback or complaints. If our systems and procedures with respect to any such feedback or complaints are determined to be inadequate or any action or inaction is found to be inadequate, including, by way of example, not discontinuing on a timely basis offers of deals with merchants or sellers that have been the subject of material complaints, we could face substantial additional liability and damage to our brand and reputation for the misconduct of such merchants.
We are subject to inventory management and order fulfillment risks as a result of our Goods category.
We purchase a portion of the merchandise that we offer for sale to our customers. The demand for products can change for a variety of reasons, including customer preference, quality, seasonality, and customers' perception of the value of purchasing the product through us. If we or our third-party suppliers are unable to adequately predict customer demand and efficiently manage inventory, we could have either an excess or a shortage of inventory, either of which would adversely impact our business.
It is important that we fulfill orders on a timely, efficient and cost-effective basis. Many other online retailers have significantly larger inventory balances and therefore are able to rely on past experience and economies of scale to optimize their order fulfillment. Because we rely on third-party logistics providers and third-party sellers for much of our order fulfillment and delivery, many parts of the supply chain are outside our control. Delays or inefficiencies in our processes, or those of our third-party logistics providers or third-party sellers, could subject us to additional costs, as well as customer dissatisfaction, which would adversely affect our business. Additionally, in some cases we assume the risks of inventory damage, theft and obsolescence, as well as risks of price erosion for these products. These risks are especially significant because some of the merchandise we sell is characterized by seasonal trends, fashion trends, obsolescence and price erosion and because we sometimes make large purchases of particular types of inventory. Our success will depend on our ability to sell our inventory rapidly, the ability of our buying staff to purchase inventory at attractive prices relative to its resale value and our ability to manage customer returns and other costs. If we are unsuccessful in any of these areas, we may be forced to sell our inventory at a discount or loss.
We are involved in pending litigation and an adverse resolution of such litigation may adversely affect our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows.
We are involved in litigation regarding, among other matters, patent, consumer, privacy and employment issues. Litigation can be expensive, time-consuming and disruptive to normal business operations. The results of complex legal proceedings are often uncertain and difficult to predict. An unfavorable outcome with respect to any of these lawsuits could have a material adverse effect on our business, financial condition, results of operations and cash flows. For additional information regarding these and other lawsuits in which we are involved, see Note 10, Commitments and Contingencies, to the consolidated financial statements.
An increase in our refund rates or estimated liabilities with respect to unredeemed vouchers could adversely affect our profitability or net income.
As we expand our product offerings, our customer refund rates may exceed historical levels. A downturn in general economic conditions may also increase our refund rates. An increase in our refund rates could significantly reduce our liquidity and profitability.    We estimate future refunds utilizing a statistical model that incorporates historical refund experience, including the relative risk of refunds based on deal category. Our actual level of refund claims could prove to be greater than the level of refund claims we estimate. If our refund reserves are not adequate to cover future refund claims, this inadequacy could have a material adverse effect on our profitability. Our standard agreements with merchants generally limit the time period during which we may seek reimbursement for customer refunds or claims. Our customers may make claims for refunds with respect to which we are unable to seek reimbursement from merchants. Our inability to obtain reimbursement from merchants for refund claims could have an adverse effect on our liquidity and profitability.
In the third quarter of 2017, we began to increase our use of redemption payment terms with our North America merchants. In addition, the revenue recognition standard that we adopt in 2018 requires us to estimate variable consideration from unredeemed vouchers. As a result, a greater percentage of our transactions in North America than in prior periods will require us to use projections in order to estimate revenue and liabilities associated with unredeemed vouchers. If the estimates that we use in projecting the likelihood of vouchers being redeemed prove to be inaccurate, our liabilities with respect to unredeemed vouchers may be materially higher than the amounts shown in our financial statements, and our net income could be materially and adversely affected.


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The loss of one or more key members of our management team, or our failure to attract and retain other highly qualified personnel in the future could harm our business.
In order to be successful, we must attract, retain and motivate executives and other key employees, including those in managerial, technical and sales positions. Hiring and retaining qualified executives, engineers and qualified sales representatives are critical to our success, and competition for experienced and well qualified employees can be intense. In order to attract and retain executives and other key employees in a competitive marketplace, we must provide a competitive compensation package, including cash and share-based compensation. Our primary form of share-based incentive award is restricted stock units. If the anticipated value of such share-based incentive awards does not materialize, if our share-based compensation otherwise ceases to be viewed as a valuable benefit or if our total compensation package is not viewed as competitive, our ability to attract, retain and motivate executives and key employees could be weakened. The failure to successfully hire executives and key employees or the loss of any executives and key employees could have a significant impact on our operations.
Acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures and strategic investments could result in operating difficulties, dilution and other consequences.
We routinely evaluate and consider a wide array of potential strategic transactions, including acquisitions and dispositions of businesses, joint ventures, technologies, services, products and other assets and minority investments. The pursuit and consummation of such transactions can result in operating difficulties, dilution, management distraction and other potentially adverse consequences. We have in the past acquired and divested a number of companies and may complete additional transactions in the future.
Acquisitions involve significant risks and uncertainties, including uncertainties as to the future financial performance of the acquired business and the performance of acquired customers, valuation of the acquired business and integration risks such as difficulties integrating acquired personnel into our business, the potential loss of key employees, customers or suppliers, difficulties in integrating different computer, payment and accounting systems and exposure to unknown or unforeseen liabilities of acquired companies. In addition, the integration of an acquisition could divert management's time and the Company's resources. If we pay for an acquisition or a minority investment in cash, it would reduce our cash available for operations or cause us to incur debt, and if we pay with our stock it could be dilutive to our stockholders. Additionally, we do not have the ability to exert control over our minority investments, and therefore we are dependent on others in order to realize their potential benefits. Dispositions and attempted dispositions also involve significant risks and uncertainties, such as the risk of destabilizing the applicable operations, the loss of key personnel, the terms and timing of any dispositions, the ability to obtain necessary governmental or regulatory approvals, post-disposal disputes and indemnification obligations and risks and uncertainties with respect to the separation of disposed operations, including, for example, transition services, access by purchasers to certain of our systems and tools during transition periods, the migration of data and separation of systems, data privacy matters and misuse of trademarks and intellectual property. We may be unable to successfully complete potential strategic transactions or dispositions on a timely basis or at all, or we may not realize the anticipated benefits of any of our strategic transactions in the time frame expected or at all.
We do not have the ability to exert control over our minority investments, and therefore we are dependent on others in order to realize their potential benefits.
We currently hold non-controlling minority investments in Monster Holdings LP ("Monster LP") and other entities and we may make additional strategic minority investments in the future. Such minority investments inherently involve a lesser degree of control over business operations, thereby potentially increasing the financial, legal, operational and/or compliance risks associated with the investments. Other investors in these entities may have business goals and interests that are not aligned with ours, or may exercise their rights in a manner in which we do not approve. These circumstances could lead to delayed decisions or disputes and litigation with those other investors, all of which could have a material adverse impact on our reputation, business, financial condition and results of operations.
If Monster LP or other investees seek additional financing in order to fund their growth strategies, such financing transactions may result in further dilution of our ownership stakes and such transactions have and in the future may occur at lower valuations than the investment transactions through which we acquired such interests, which could significantly decrease the fair values of our investments in those entities. Additionally, if Monster LP or other investees are unable to obtain any such financing, those entities could need to significantly reduce their spending in order to fund their operations. Such actions likely would result in reduced growth forecasts, which also could significantly decrease the fair values of our investments in those entities.


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The application of certain laws and regulations, including, among other laws, the CARD Act and similar state and foreign laws, may harm our business and results of operations.
The application of certain laws and regulations to vouchers is uncertain. Vouchers may be considered gift cards, gift certificates, stored value cards or prepaid cards and therefore governed by, among other laws, the CARD Act, and state laws governing gift cards, stored value cards and coupons, and, in certain instances, potentially subject to unclaimed and abandoned property laws. Other foreign jurisdictions have similar laws in place, in particular European jurisdictions where the European E-Money Directive regulates the business of electronic money institutions. Many of these laws contain provisions governing the use of gift cards, gift certificates, stored value cards or prepaid cards, including specific disclosure requirements and prohibitions or limitations on the use of expiration dates and the imposition of certain fees. For example, if vouchers are subject to the CARD Act and are not included in the exemption for promotional programs, it is possible that the purchase value, which is the amount equal to the price paid for the voucher, or the promotional value, which is the add-on value of the voucher in excess of the price paid, or both, may not expire before the later of (i) five years after the date on which the voucher was issued; (ii) the voucher’s stated expiration date (if any); or (iii) a later date provided by applicable state law. In the event that it is determined that vouchers sold through our platform are subject to the CARD Act or any similar state or foreign law or regulation, and are not within various exemptions that may be available under the CARD Act or under some of the various state or foreign jurisdictions, our liabilities with respect to unredeemed vouchers may be materially higher than the amounts shown in our financial statements and we may be subject to additional fines and penalties.
In addition, from time to time, we may be notified of additional, or developments in existing, laws and regulations that governmental organizations or others may claim should be applicable to our business, or that otherwise affect our operations. If we are required to alter our business practices, or there are other market changes, as a result of any laws and regulations, our revenue could decrease, our costs could increase and our business could otherwise be harmed. In addition, the costs and expenses associated with defending any actions related to, or otherwise reacting to, such legal or regulatory developments, and any related payments (including penalties, judgments, settlements or fees) could adversely impact our profitability. To the extent that we expand into new lines of business and new geographies, we will become subject to additional laws and regulations.
We may have exposure to greater than anticipated tax liabilities.
We are subject to income taxes in the United States (federal and state) and numerous foreign jurisdictions. Tax laws, regulations, and administrative practices in various jurisdictions may be subject to significant change due to economic, political, and other conditions, and significant judgment is required in evaluating and estimating our provision and accruals for these taxes. Our income tax obligations are based on our corporate operating structure, including the manner in which we develop, value and use our intellectual property and the scope of our international operations.
The tax laws applicable to our domestic and international business activities, including the laws of the United States and other jurisdictions, are subject to interpretation. The taxing authorities of the jurisdictions in which we operate may challenge our methodologies for valuing developed technology or intercompany arrangements, which could potentially increase our worldwide effective tax rate and harm our financial position and results of operations. In addition, there are many transactions that occur during the ordinary course of business for which the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Our effective tax rates could be adversely affected by earnings being lower than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have lower statutory rates and higher than anticipated in jurisdictions where we have higher statutory rates, losses incurred in jurisdictions for which we are not able to realize the related tax benefits, changes in foreign currency exchange rates, entry into new businesses and geographies and changes to our existing businesses, acquisitions and investments, changes in our deferred tax assets and liabilities and their valuation and changes in the relevant tax, accounting and other laws, regulations, administrative practices, principles and interpretations, including fundamental changes to the tax laws applicable to corporate multinationals. For example, many countries in the European Union and a number of other countries are actively considering changes in this regard. Developments in an audit, litigation or the relevant laws, regulations, administrative practices, principles and interpretations could have a material effect on our financial position, operating results and cash flows in the period or periods for which that development occurs, as well as for prior and subsequent periods.
We also are subject to regular review and audit by both U.S. federal and state and foreign tax authorities. In particular, we currently are, and expect to continue to be, subject to numerous federal, state and international tax audits relating to income, transfer pricing, sales, VAT and other tax liabilities. Some of these pending and future audits could involve significant liabilities and/or penalties. For example, in the fourth quarter 2017, we received an income tax assessment and a notification of potential assessment from the tax authorities in two foreign jurisdictions, totaling $138.1 million in the aggregate. We believe that the assessments, which primarily relate to transfer pricing on transactions occurring from 2011 to 2014, are without merit and we intend to vigorously defend ourselves in those matters. See Note 14, Income Taxes, for additional information. Any adverse outcome of such a review or audit could have a significant negative effect on our financial position and results of operations. In addition,


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the determination of our worldwide provision for income taxes and other tax liabilities requires significant judgment by management, and there are many transactions where the ultimate tax determination is uncertain. Although we believe that our estimates are reasonable, the ultimate tax outcome may differ from the amounts recorded in our financial statements and may materially affect our financial results in the period or periods for which such determination is made.
The adoption of tax reform policies, including the enactment of legislation or regulations implementing changes in the tax treatment of companies engaged in Internet commerce or the U.S. taxation of international business activities could materially affect our financial position and results of operations.
Further, due to the global nature of the Internet, it is possible that various states or foreign countries might attempt to regulate our transmissions or levy sales, income or other taxes relating to our activities. Tax authorities at the international, federal, state and local levels are currently reviewing the appropriate treatment of companies engaged in Internet commerce. New or revised international, federal, state or local tax regulations may subject us or our customers to additional sales, income and other taxes. We cannot predict the effect of current attempts to impose sales, income or other taxes on commerce over the Internet. New or revised taxes and, in particular, sales taxes, VAT and similar taxes would likely increase the cost of doing business online and decrease the attractiveness of advertising and selling goods and services over the Internet. For example, the voucher directive recently adopted by the European Union or similar regulations could adversely affect our financial results. New taxes could also create significant increases in internal costs necessary to capture data, and collect and remit taxes. Any of these events could have an adverse effect on our business and results of operations.
On December 22, 2017, new legislation was signed into law that revises the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, as amended. The newly enacted federal income tax law contains significant changes to corporate taxation. Although we currently do not expect the new federal tax law to have a significant impact on us in 2018, the overall impact over time is uncertain as the law is interpreted and implemented. In addition, it is uncertain if and to what extent various states will conform to the newly enacted federal tax law.
If we are required to materially increase the liability recorded in our financial statements with respect to unredeemed vouchers our results of operations could be materially and adversely affected
In certain states and foreign jurisdictions, vouchers may be considered a gift card. Some of these states and foreign jurisdictions include gift cards under their unclaimed and abandoned property laws which require companies to remit to the government the full value or a portion of the value of the unredeemed balance on the gift cards after a specified period of time (generally between one and five years) and impose certain reporting and record-keeping obligations. We do not remit any amounts relating to unredeemed vouchers based on our assessment of applicable laws. The analysis of the potential application of the unclaimed and abandoned property laws to vouchers is complex, involving an analysis of constitutional and statutory provisions and factual issues, including our contractual relationship with customers and merchants. In the third quarter of 2017, we began to increase our use of redemption payment terms with our North America merchants, and we expect that trend to continue. The determinations we make with respect to variable consideration that we earn on those transactions may be subject to the laws described above, and we expect the amount of that variable consideration to increase as our use of redemption payment terms increases. In the event that one or more states or foreign jurisdictions successfully challenges our position on the application of its unclaimed and abandoned property laws to vouchers, our liabilities with respect to unredeemed vouchers, including any resulting penalties and interest, may be materially higher than the amounts shown in our financial statements which could have a material adverse impact on our results of operations.
Government regulation of the Internet and e-commerce is evolving, and unfavorable changes or failure by us to comply with these regulations could substantially harm our business and results of operations.
We are subject to general business regulations and laws as well as regulations and laws specifically governing the Internet and e-commerce. Existing and future regulations and laws could impede the growth of the Internet or other online services. These regulations and laws may involve taxation, tariffs, subscriber privacy, anti-spam, data protection, content, reference pricing, copyrights, distribution, electronic contracts and other communications, consumer protection, the provision of online payment services and the characteristics and quality of services. The application of existing laws governing issues such as property ownership, sales and other taxes, libel and personal privacy to the Internet is not clear as the vast majority of these laws were adopted prior to the advent and do not contemplate or address the unique issues raised by the Internet or e-commerce. In addition, it is possible that governments of one or more countries may seek to censor content available on our websites and mobile applications or may even attempt to completely block our emails or access to our websites. Adverse legal or regulatory developments could substantially harm our business. In particular, in the event that we are restricted, in whole or in part, from operating in one or more countries,


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our ability to retain or increase our customer base may be adversely affected and we may not be able to maintain or grow our gross profit as anticipated.
Failure to comply with federal, state and international privacy laws and regulations, or the expansion of current or the enactment of new privacy laws or regulations, could adversely affect our business.
A variety of federal, state and international laws and regulations govern the collection, use, retention, sharing and security of consumer data. The existing privacy-related laws and regulations are evolving and subject to potentially differing interpretations. In addition, various federal, state and foreign legislative and regulatory bodies may expand current or enact new laws regarding privacy matters. For example, the European Union adopted the GDPR, which will go into effect in May 2018, and requires companies to satisfy new requirements regarding the handling of personal and sensitive data, including its collection, use, protection and the ability of persons whose data is stored to correct or delete such data about themselves. Complying with the GDPR may cause us to incur substantial operational costs or require us to change our business practices. Despite our efforts to bring practices into compliance before the effective date of the GDPR, we may not be successful either due to internal or external factors such as resource allocation limitations or a lack of vendor cooperation. Noncompliance could result in proceedings against us by governmental entities or others and fines up to the greater of €20 million or 4% of annual global revenues and damage to our reputation and brand. We may also experience difficulty retaining or obtaining new European or multi-national customers due to the compliance cost, potential risk exposure, portability of customer data and uncertainty for these entities. We also may find it necessary to establish systems to maintain personal data originating from the European Union in the European Economic Area as a result of changes or restrictions to currently legitimate methods of effectuating cross-border personal data transfers to countries outside of the European Economic Area, which may involve substantial expense and distraction from other aspects of our business. Additionally, there could be uncertainty as to how to comply with other European Union privacy laws, such as country-specific laws that may conflict with or deviate from European Union privacy directives, such as GDPR.
We have posted privacy policies and practices concerning the collection, use and disclosure of subscriber data on our websites and applications. Several Internet companies have incurred substantial penalties for failing to abide by the representations made in their privacy policies and practices. In addition, several states have adopted legislation that requires businesses to implement and maintain reasonable security procedures and practices to protect sensitive personal information and to provide notice to consumers in the event of a security breach resulting in a loss or likely loss of personal information. Any failure, or perceived failure, by us to comply with our posted privacy policies or with any data-related consent orders, Federal Trade Commission requirements or orders or other federal, state or international privacy or consumer protection-related laws, regulations or industry self-regulatory principles could result in claims, proceedings or actions against us by governmental entities or others or other liabilities, which could adversely affect our business. In addition, a failure or perceived failure to comply with industry standards or with our own privacy policies and practices could result in a loss of subscribers or merchants and adversely affect our business. Federal, state and international governmental authorities continue to evaluate the privacy implications inherent in the use of third-party web "cookies" for tracking and behavioral advertising. The regulation of these cookies and other current online advertising practices could adversely affect our business.
Misclassification or reclassification of our independent contractors or employees could increase our costs and adversely impact our business.
Our workers are classified as either employees or independent contractors, and if employees, as either exempt from overtime or non-exempt (and therefore overtime eligible). Regulatory authorities and private parties have recently asserted within several industries that some independent contractors should be classified as employees and that some exempt employees, including those in sales-related positions, should be classified as non-exempt based upon the applicable facts and circumstances and their interpretations of existing rules and regulations. If we are found to have misclassified employees as independent contractors or non-exempt employees as exempt, we could face penalties and have additional exposure under federal and state tax, workers’ compensation, unemployment benefits, labor, employment and tort laws, including for prior periods, as well as potential liability for employee overtime and benefits and tax withholdings. Legislative, judicial, or regulatory (including tax) authorities could also introduce proposals or assert interpretations of existing rules and regulations that would change the classification of a significant number of independent contractors doing business with us from independent contractor to employee and a significant number of exempt employees to non-exempt. A reclassification in either case could result in a significant increase in employment-related costs such as wages, benefits and taxes. The costs associated with employee classification, including any related regulatory action or litigation, could have a material adverse effect on our results of operations and our financial position.


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We may suffer liability as a result of information retrieved from or transmitted over the Internet and claims related to our service offerings.
We may be, and in certain cases have been, sued for defamation, civil rights infringement, negligence, patent, copyright or trademark infringement, invasion of privacy, personal injury, product liability, breach of contract, unfair competition, discrimination, antitrust reference pricing or other legal claims relating to information that is published or made available on our websites or service offerings we make available (including provision of an application programming interface platform for third parties to access our website, mobile device services and geolocation applications). This risk is enhanced in certain jurisdictions outside the United States, where our liability for such third-party actions may be less clear and we may be less protected. In addition, we could incur significant costs in investigating and defending such claims, even if we ultimately are not found liable. If any of these events occurs, our business could be materially and adversely affected.
We are subject to risks associated with information disseminated through our websites and mobile applications, including consumer data, content that is produced by our editorial staff and errors or omissions related to the offerings on our marketplaces. Such information, whether accurate or inaccurate, may result in our being sued by our merchants, subscribers or third parties and as a result our results of operations and our financial position could be materially and adversely affected.
We may not be able to adequately protect our intellectual property rights or may be accused of infringing intellectual property rights of third parties.
We regard our trademarks, service marks, copyrights, patents, trade dress, trade secrets, proprietary technology, merchant lists, subscriber lists, sales methodology and similar intellectual property as critical to our success, and we rely on trademark, copyright and patent law, trade secret protection and confidentiality and/or license agreements with our employees and others to protect our proprietary rights. Effective intellectual property protection may not be available in every country in which our deals are made available. We also may not be able to acquire or maintain appropriate domain names or trademarks in all countries in which we do business. Furthermore, regulations governing domain names may not protect our trademarks and similar proprietary rights. We may be unable to prevent third parties from acquiring and using domain names or trade names that are similar to, infringe upon or diminish the value of our trademarks and other proprietary rights. We may be unable to prevent third parties from using and registering our trademarks, or trademarks that are similar to, or diminish the value of, our trademarks in some countries.
We may not be able to discover or determine the extent of any unauthorized use of our proprietary rights. Third parties that license our intellectual property rights also may take actions that diminish the value of our proprietary rights or reputation. The protection of our intellectual property may require the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources. Moreover, the steps we take to protect our intellectual property may not adequately protect our rights or prevent third parties from infringing or misappropriating our proprietary rights. We are currently subject to multiple lawsuits and disputes related to our intellectual property and service offerings. We may in the future be subject to additional litigation and disputes. The costs of engaging in such litigation and disputes are considerable, and there can be no assurances that favorable outcomes will be obtained.
We are currently subject to third-party claims that we infringe upon proprietary rights or trademarks and expect to be subject to additional claims in the future. Such claims, whether or not meritorious, may result in the expenditure of significant financial and managerial resources, injunctions against us or the payment of damages by us. We may need to obtain licenses from third parties who allege that we have infringed their rights, but such licenses may not be available on terms acceptable to us or at all. These risks have been amplified by the increase in third parties whose sole or primary business is to assert such claims.
Our business depends on a strong brand, and if we are not able to maintain and enhance our brand, our ability to expand our base of customers and merchants could be impaired and our business and operating results could be harmed.
We believe that the brand identity that we have developed has significantly contributed to the success of our business. We also believe that maintaining and enhancing the "Groupon" brand is critical to expanding our base of customers and merchants. Maintaining and enhancing our brand may require us to make substantial investments and these investments may not be successful. If we fail to promote, maintain and protect the "Groupon" brand, or if we incur excessive expenses in this effort, our business, operating results and financial condition will be materially and adversely affected. We anticipate that, as our market becomes increasingly competitive, maintaining and enhancing our brand may become increasingly difficult and expensive. Maintaining and enhancing our brand will depend largely on our ability to continue to provide reliable, trustworthy and high quality offerings on our online marketplaces, which we may not do successfully.
We receive a high degree of media coverage around the world. Unfavorable publicity or consumer perception of our websites, mobile applications, practices or service offerings, or the offerings of our merchants or their products, could adversely affect our reputation, resulting in difficulties in recruiting, decreased revenue and a negative impact on the number of merchants


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we feature and the size of our customer base, the loyalty of our customers and the number and variety of deals we offer each day. As a result, our business, financial condition and results of operations could be materially and adversely affected.
Failure to deal effectively with fraudulent transactions and customer disputes would increase our loss rate and harm our business.
Groupon vouchers are issued in the form of redeemable vouchers with unique identifiers. It is possible that consumers or other third parties will seek to create counterfeit vouchers in order to fraudulently purchase discounted goods and services from merchants. While we use advanced anti-fraud technologies, criminals will likely attempt to circumvent our anti-fraud systems using increasingly sophisticated methods. In addition, our service could be subject to employee fraud or other internal security breaches, and we may be required to reimburse customers and/or merchants for any funds stolen or revenue lost as a result of such breaches. Merchants could also request reimbursement, or stop offering goods or services on our marketplaces, if they are affected by buyer fraud or other types of fraud.
Although we have not incurred significant losses from fraud and counterfeit vouchers in the past, we could incur significant losses from such activities in future periods. Additionally, we may incur losses from claims that the customer did not authorize a purchase, from credit card fraud, from merchant fraud, from erroneous transmissions, and from customers who have closed bank accounts or have insufficient funds in them to satisfy payments. We also may incur losses as a result of purchases made with fraudulent credit card information, even if the associated financial institution approved payment of the transaction. In addition to the direct costs of any such losses, if the losses are related to credit card transactions and become excessive, they could potentially result in our losing the right to accept credit cards for payment. If we were unable to accept credit cards for payment, we would suffer substantial reductions in revenue, which would cause our business to suffer. While we have taken measures to detect and reduce the risk of fraud, these measures need continual improvement and may not be effective against new and continually evolving forms of fraud or in connection with new product offerings. If we are unable to effectively combat the use of fraudulent credit cards on our websites or if we otherwise experience increased levels of fraud or disputed credit card payments, our business could materially suffer.
We are subject to payments-related risks.
We accept payments using a variety of methods, including credit cards, debit cards and gift certificates. As we offer new payment options to customers, we may be subject to additional regulations, compliance requirements and fraud. For certain payment methods, including credit and debit cards, we pay interchange and other fees, which may increase over time and raise our operating costs and lower profitability. In addition, our credit card and other payment processors could impose receivable holdback or reserve requirements in the future. We rely on third parties to provide payment processing services, including the processing of credit cards and debit cards, and it could disrupt our business if these companies become unwilling or unable to provide these services to us. We are also subject to payment card association operating rules, certification requirements and rules governing electronic funds transfers, which could change or be reinterpreted to make it difficult or impossible for us to comply. If we fail to comply with these rules or requirements, we may be subject to fines and higher transaction fees and lose our ability to accept credit and debit card payments from customers or facilitate other types of online payments, and our business and operating results could be adversely affected.
We are also subject to or voluntarily comply with a number of other laws and regulations relating to money laundering, international money transfers, privacy and information security and electronic fund transfers. If we were found to be in violation of applicable laws or regulations, we could be subject to civil and criminal penalties. In addition, events affecting our third-party payment processors, including cyber-attacks, Internet or other infrastructure or communications impairment or other events that could interrupt the normal operation of our payment processors or result in unauthorized access to customer information, could have a material adverse effect on our business.
Federal laws and regulations, such as the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act and similar foreign laws, could be expanded to include Groupon vouchers or other offerings.
Various federal laws, such as the Bank Secrecy Act and the USA PATRIOT Act and foreign laws and regulations, such as the European Directive on the prevention of the use of the financial system for the purpose of money laundering and terrorist financing, impose certain anti-money laundering requirements on companies that are financial institutions or that provide financial products and services. For these purposes, financial institutions are broadly defined to include money services businesses such as money transmitters, check cashers and sellers or issuers of stored value cards. Examples of anti-money laundering requirements imposed on financial institutions include subscriber identification and verification programs, record retention policies and procedures and transaction reporting. We do not believe that we are a financial institution subject to these laws and regulations based, in part, upon the characteristics of Groupon vouchers and our role with respect to the distribution of Groupon vouchers to


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customers. For example, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network ("FinCEN"), a division of the U.S. Treasury Department tasked with implementing the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act (the "BSA"), has adopted regulations expanding the scope of the BSA and requirements for parties involved in stored value or prepaid access cards, including a proposed expansion of financial institutions to include sellers or issuers of prepaid access cards. While we believe Groupon vouchers are not subject to these regulations, it is possible that FinCEN or a court of law could consider Groupon vouchers (or other Groupon products) a financial product and that we could be a financial institution. In the event that we become subject to the requirements of the Bank Secrecy Act or any other anti-money laundering law or regulation imposing obligations on us as a money services business, our regulatory compliance costs to meet these obligations would likely increase which could adversely impact our operating results.
State and foreign laws regulating money transmission could be expanded to include Groupon vouchers.
Many states and certain foreign jurisdictions impose license and registration obligations on those companies engaged in the business of money transmission, with varying definitions of what constitutes money transmission. We currently believe that we are not a money transmitter given our role and the product terms of Groupon vouchers (or other Groupon products). However, a successful challenge to our position or expansion of state or foreign laws could subject us to increased compliance costs and delay our ability to offer Groupon vouchers (or other products) in certain jurisdictions pending receipt of any necessary licenses or registrations.
Our ability to raise capital in the future may be limited, which could prevent us from growing, and our existing credit agreement could restrict our business activities.
We may in the future be required to raise capital through public or private financing or other arrangements. Such financing may not be available on acceptable terms, or at all, and our failure to raise capital when needed could harm our business. In addition, we are party to a $250.0 million amended and restated credit agreement with JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., as Administrative Agent, dated as of June 29, 2016, as amended (the "Credit Agreement"). Our Credit Agreement contains financial and other covenants that may restrict our business activities or our ability to execute our strategic objectives, and our failure to comply with these covenants could result in a default under our Credit Agreement. Furthermore, additional equity financing may dilute the interests of our common stockholders, and debt financing, if available, may involve restrictive covenants that could further restrict our business activities or our ability to execute our strategic objectives and could reduce our profitability. If we cannot raise or borrow funds on acceptable terms, we may not be able to grow our business or respond to competitive pressures.
We may not have the ability to use cash to settle the principal amount of our 3.25% convertible notes due 2022 (the "Notes") upon conversion or to repurchase the Notes upon a fundamental change, which could result in dilution and could adversely affect our financial condition.
    The Notes are convertible any time prior to their maturity on April 1, 2022 into cash, stock or a combination of cash and stock at an initial conversion rate set forth in the indenture governing the Notes (the "Indenture"). Notes that are converted in connection with a make-whole fundamental change (as defined in the Indenture) may be entitled to an increase in the conversation rate for such Notes. Upon a conversion event, if we do not have adequate cash available or cannot obtain additional financing, or our use of cash is restricted by applicable law, regulations or agreements governing our current or future indebtedness, we may not be able to use cash to settle the principal amount of the Notes upon conversion. If we settle any portion of the principal amount of the Notes upon conversion in stock, it will result in immediate dilution to the ownership interests of existing stockholders and such dilution could be material.
In addition, holders of the Notes have the right to require us to repurchase their Notes upon the occurrence of a fundamental change (as defined in the Indenture) at a repurchase price equal to 100% of the principal amount of the Notes to be repurchased, plus accrued and unpaid interest, if any. If we do not have adequate cash available or cannot obtain additional financing, or our use of cash is restricted by applicable law, regulations or agreements governing our current or future indebtedness, we may not be able repurchase the Notes when required under the Indenture, which would constitute an event of default under the Indenture. An event of default under the Indenture could also lead to a default under other agreements governing our current and future indebtedness, and if the repayment of such other indebtedness were accelerated, we may not have sufficient funds to repay the indebtedness and repurchase the Notes or make cash payments upon conversion of the Notes.
The terms of the Notes could delay or prevent an attempt to take over our Company.
The terms of the Notes require us to repurchase the Notes in the event of a fundamental change. A takeover of our Company would constitute a fundamental change. This could have the effect of delaying or preventing a takeover of our Company that may otherwise be beneficial to our stockholders.


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Risks Related to Ownership of Our Common Stock
The trading price of our common stock is highly volatile.
The trading price of our common stock has fluctuated significantly since our initial listing on Nasdaq. We expect that the trading price of our stock will continue to be volatile due to variations in our operating results and also may change in response to other factors, including factors specific to technology and Internet commerce companies, many of which are beyond our control. Among the factors that could affect our stock price are:
our financial results;
any financial projections that we provide to the public, any changes in these projections or our failure for any reason to meet these projections or projections made by research analysts;
the number of shares of our common stock that are available for sale;
the relative success of competitive products or services;
the public's response to press releases or other public announcements by us or others, including our filings with the SEC and announcements relating to litigation;
speculation about our business in the press or the investment community;
future sales of our common stock by our significant stockholders, officers and directors;
announcements about our share repurchase program and purchases under the program;
changes in our capital structure, such as future issuances of debt or equity securities;
our entry into new markets or exits from existing markets;
regulatory developments in the United States or foreign countries;
strategic acquisitions, joint ventures or restructurings announced or consummated by us or our competitors;
strategic dispositions of businesses or other assets announced or consummated by us; and
changes in accounting principles.
We expect the stock price volatility to continue for the foreseeable future as a result of these and other factors.
If securities or industry analysts do not publish research or reports about our business, or publish inaccurate or unfavorable research reports about our business, our share price and trading volume could decline.
The trading market for our common stock depends, in part, on the research and reports that securities or industry analysts publish about us or our business. We do not have any control over these analysts, and in the past, we have had changes in analyst ratings that have affected our stock price. If one or more of the analysts who cover us should downgrade our shares or change their opinion of our shares, industry sector or products, our share price would likely decline. If one or more of these analysts ceases coverage of our company or fails to regularly publish reports on us, we could lose visibility in the financial markets, which could cause our share price or trading volume to decline.
The concentration of our common stock ownership with our founders and their affiliates may limit stockholders' ability to influence corporate matters.
On October 31, 2016, each share of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock automatically converted (the "Conversion") into a single class of common stock. As a result of the Conversion, each holder of our common stock is entitled to one vote per share on any matter that is submitted to a vote of stockholders. Although the voting power of our founders was more concentrated prior to the Conversion, Eric Lefkofsky and Bradley Keywell and their affiliates own over 20% of our common stock as of December 31, 2017. They, therefore, may have significant influence over matters requiring stockholder approval, including


26


the election of directors and significant corporate transactions, such as a merger or other sale of our company or its assets. This concentrated ownership could limit stockholders' ability to influence corporate matters and, as a result, we may take actions that our stockholders do not view as beneficial. As a result, the market price of our common stock could be adversely affected.
We do not intend to pay dividends for the foreseeable future.
We intend to retain all of our earnings for the foreseeable future to finance the operation and expansion of our business and do not anticipate paying cash dividends. As a result, stockholders can expect to receive a return on their investment in our common stock only if the market price of the stock increases.
Provisions in our charter documents and under Delaware law could discourage a takeover that stockholders may consider favorable.
Provisions in our certificate of incorporation and bylaws may have the effect of delaying or preventing a change of control or changes in our management. These provisions include the following:
Our Board of Directors has the right to elect directors to fill a vacancy created by the expansion of the Board of Directors or the resignation, death or removal of a director, which prevents stockholders from being able to fill vacancies on our Board of Directors.
Special meetings of our stockholders may be called only by our Chairman of the Board, our Chief Executive Officer, our Board of Directors or holders of not less than the majority of our issued and outstanding common stock. This limits the ability of minority stockholders to take certain actions without an annual meeting of stockholders.
Our stockholders may not act by written consent unless the action to be effected and the taking of such action by written consent is approved in advance by our Board of Directors. As a result, a holder, or holders, controlling a majority of our common stock would generally not be able to take certain actions without holding a stockholders' meeting.
Our certificate of incorporation prohibits cumulative voting in the election of directors. This limits the ability of minority stockholders to elect director candidates.
Stockholders must provide timely notice to nominate individuals for election to the Board of Directors or to propose matters that can be acted upon at an annual meeting of stockholders. These provisions may discourage or deter a potential acquiror from conducting a solicitation of proxies to elect the acquiror's own slate of directors or otherwise attempting to obtain control of our company.
Our Board of Directors may issue, without stockholder approval, shares of undesignated preferred stock. The ability to authorize undesignated preferred stock makes it possible for our Board of Directors to issue preferred stock with voting or other rights or preferences that could impede the success of any attempt to acquire us.
The convertible note hedge and warrant transactions may affect the value of our common stock.
On May 9, 2016, we purchased convertible note hedges from certain bank counterparties. The convertible note hedges are intended to reduce the potential economic dilution upon conversion of the Notes. On May 9, 2016, we also sold warrants to certain bank counterparties. The warrant transactions would separately have a dilutive effect to the extent that the market price per share of our common stock exceeds the applicable strike price of the warrants.
The bank counterparties or their respective affiliates may modify their initial hedge positions by entering into or unwinding various derivatives contracts with respect to our common stock and/or purchasing or selling our common stock or other securities of ours in secondary market transactions prior to the maturity of the Notes (and are likely to do so during any observation period related to a conversion of Notes or following any repurchase of Notes by us on any fundamental change repurchase date or otherwise). This activity could cause or avoid a significant change in the market price of our common stock.
In addition, in some circumstances, such as an early termination of the convertible note hedge and warrant transactions, the bank counterparties or their respective affiliates may unwind their hedge positions with respect to our common stock, which could adversely affect the value of our common stock.



27


ITEM 1B: UNRESOLVED STAFF COMMENTS
None.
ITEM 2: PROPERTIES
As of December 31, 2017, the Company owned no property and had leases for approximately 1.3 million square feet of space. Our corporate headquarters and principal executive offices are located in Chicago, Illinois. Other properties are located throughout the world and largely represent local operating facilities. We believe that our properties are in good condition and meet the needs of our business, and that suitable additional or alternative space will be available as needed to accommodate our business operations and future growth.
    
Description of Use
Segment
Square Feet
Various lease expirations through
Corporate offices
North America
624,000
January 2026
Corporate offices
International
377,000
February 2027
 
 
 
 
Fulfillment and data centers
North America
337,000
August 2023
Fulfillment and data centers
International
9,000
March 2019
ITEM 3: LEGAL PROCEEDINGS
For a description of our material pending legal proceedings, please see Note 10, Commitments and Contingencies, to the consolidated financial statements included in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K.
ITEM 4: MINE SAFETY DISCLOSURES
Not applicable.


28


PART II
ITEM 5: MARKET FOR REGISTRANT'S COMMON EQUITY, RELATED STOCKHOLDER MATTERS AND ISSUER PURCHASES OF EQUITY SECURITIES
Our Class A common stock or common stock, as applicable, has been listed on the NASDAQ Global Select Market under the symbol "GRPN" since November 4, 2011. On October 31, 2016, each share of our Class A common stock and Class B common stock automatically converted (the "Conversion") into a single class of common stock. The following table sets forth the high and low intraday sales price for our common stock (and Class A common stock prior to the Conversion) as reported by the NASDAQ Global Select Market for each of the quarterly periods listed.
2016
High
Low
First Quarter
$
5.28

$
2.15

Second Quarter
$
4.72

$
2.92

Third Quarter
$
5.94

$
3.18

Fourth Quarter
$
5.39

$
3.29

 
 
 
2017
High
Low
First Quarter
$
4.80

$
3.27

Second Quarter
$
4.05

$
2.90

Third Quarter
$
5.22

$
3.60

Fourth Quarter
$
5.99

$
4.49

Holders
As of February 12, 2018, there were 173 holders of record of our common stock. As a result of the Conversion, each holder of our common stock is entitled to one vote per share on any matter that is submitted to a vote of stockholders.
Dividend Policy
We currently do not anticipate paying dividends on our common stock in the foreseeable future. Any future determination to declare cash dividends will be made at the discretion of our Board of Directors, subject to applicable laws, and will depend on our financial condition, results of operations, capital requirements, general business conditions and other factors that our Board of Directors may deem relevant. The terms of our amended and restated revolving credit agreement also restrict our ability to declare cash dividends. See Note 9, Financing Arrangements, for additional information.
Equity Compensation Plan Information
Information about the securities authorized for issuance under our compensation plans is incorporated by reference from the Company's Proxy Statement for the 2018 Annual Meeting of Stockholders.
Recent Sales of Unregistered Securities
During the year ended December 31, 2017, we did not issue any unregistered equity securities.
Issuer Purchases of Equity Securities
The Board has authorized the Company to repurchase up to $700.0 million of its common stock through April 2018 under a share repurchase program. The timing and amount of any share repurchases, if any, will be determined based on market conditions, limitations under the amended and restated credit agreement, share price and other factors, and the program may be terminated at any time. We will fund the repurchases through cash on hand, future cash flows and borrowings under our credit facility. Repurchases will be made in compliance with SEC rules and other legal requirements and may be made in part under a Rule 10b5-1 plan, which permits stock repurchases when the Company might otherwise be precluded from doing so.


29


During the three months ended December 31, 2017, we did not purchase any shares under the share repurchase program. As of December 31, 2017, up to $135.2 million of common stock remained available for purchase under that program.
From the inception of our share repurchase programs in August 2013 through December 31, 2017, we have repurchased 188,602,242 shares of our common stock (and Class A common stock prior to the Conversion) for an aggregate purchase price of $867.4 million (including fees and commissions).    
The following table provides information about purchases of shares of our common stock during the three months ended December 31, 2017 related to shares withheld upon vesting of restricted stock units for minimum tax withholding obligations:
Date
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased (1)
 
Average Price Paid Per Share
 
Total Number of Shares Purchased as Part of Publicly Announced Program
 
Maximum Number (or Approximate Dollar Value) of Shares that May Yet Be Purchased Under Program
October 1-31, 2017
 
388,062

 
$
5.12

 

 

November 1-30, 2017
 
120,609

 
5.58

 

 

December 1-31, 2017
 
692,794

 
5.42

 

 

Total
 
1,201,465

 
$
5.34

 

 

(1)
Total number of shares delivered to us by employees to satisfy the mandatory tax withholding requirement upon vesting of stock-based compensation awards.



30


Stock Performance Graph
This performance graph shall not be deemed "filed" for purposes of Section 18 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended (the Exchange Act), or incorporated by reference into any filing of Groupon, Inc. under the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, or the Exchange Act, except as shall be expressly set forth by specific reference in such filing. Our stock price performance shown in the graph below is not indicative of our future stock price performance.
The graph set forth below compares the cumulative total return on our common stock (and Class A common stock prior to the Conversion) with the cumulative total return of the Nasdaq Composite Index and the Nasdaq 100 Index, resulting from an initial investment of $100 in each and assuming the reinvestment of any dividends, based on closing prices on the last trading day of each year end period for 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017.
stockperfgr17.jpg
Source: Yahoo! Finance


31



ITEM 6: SELECTED FINANCIAL DATA
The following selected consolidated financial data should be read in conjunction with our consolidated financial statements and the accompanying notes thereto in Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K, and the information contained in Item 7 Management's Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. Historical results are not necessarily indicative of future results.     
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2017

2016

2015

2014

2013
 
(in thousands, except share and per share amounts)
Consolidated Statements of Operations Data (1):
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Revenue:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party and other
$
1,266,452

 
$
1,206,441

 
$
1,250,149

 
$
1,353,948

 
$
1,453,630

Direct
1,577,425

 
1,807,174

 
1,704,667

 
1,504,698

 
898,529

Total revenue
2,843,877

 
3,013,615

 
2,954,816

 
2,858,646

 
2,352,159

Cost of revenue:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party and other
160,810

 
150,031

 
158,095

 
173,204

 
173,079

Direct
1,349,206

 
1,582,931

 
1,508,911

 
1,339,881

 
837,679

Total cost of revenue
1,510,016

 
1,732,962

 
1,667,006

 
1,513,085

 
1,010,758

Gross profit
1,333,861

 
1,280,653

 
1,287,810

 
1,345,561

 
1,341,401

Operating expenses:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Marketing
400,918

 
352,175

 
241,342

 
227,855

 
194,184

Selling, general and administrative
901,781

 
994,027

 
1,100,528

 
1,080,199

 
1,048,867

Restructuring charges
18,828

 
40,438

 
28,464

 

 

Gain on sale of intangible assets
(17,149
)
 

 

 

 

Gains on business dispositions

 
(11,399
)
 
(13,710
)
 

 

Acquisition-related expense (benefit), net
48

 
5,650

 
1,857

 
1,269

 
(11
)
  Total operating expenses
1,304,426

 
1,380,891

 
1,358,481

 
1,309,323

 
1,243,040

Income (loss) from operations
29,435

 
(100,238
)
 
(70,671
)
 
36,238

 
98,361

Other income (expense), net
6,710

 
(71,289
)
 
(25,586
)
 
(31,655
)
 
(93,319
)
Income (loss) from continuing operations before provision (benefit) for income taxes
36,145

 
(171,527
)
 
(96,257
)
 
4,583

 
5,042

Provision (benefit) for income taxes
7,544

 
(5,318
)
 
(23,010
)
 
15,308

 
68,980

Income (loss) from continuing operations
28,601

 
(166,209
)
 
(73,247
)
 
(10,725
)
 
(63,938
)
Income (loss) from discontinued operations, net of tax
(1,974
)
 
(17,114
)
 
106,926

 
(53,194
)
 
(25,008
)
Net income (loss)
26,627

 
(183,323
)
 
33,679

 
(63,919
)

(88,946
)
Net income attributable to noncontrolling interests
(12,587
)
 
(11,264
)
 
(13,011
)
 
(9,171
)
 
(6,447
)
Net income (loss) attributable to Groupon, Inc.
$
14,040

 
$
(194,587
)
 
$
20,668

 
$
(73,090
)
 
$
(95,393
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic net income (loss) per share (2):
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continuing operations
$
0.03

 
$
(0.31
)
 
$
(0.13
)
 
$
(0.03
)
 
$
(0.11
)
Discontinued operations
(0.00
)
 
(0.03
)
 
0.16

 
(0.08
)
 
(0.03
)
Basic net income (loss) per share
$
0.03

 
$
(0.34
)
 
$
0.03

 
$
(0.11
)
 
$
(0.14
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Diluted net income (loss) per share(2):
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Continuing operations
$
0.03

 
$
(0.31
)
 
$
(0.13
)
 
$
(0.03
)
 
$
(0.11
)
Discontinued operations
(0.01
)
 
(0.03
)
 
0.16

 
(0.08
)
 
(0.03
)
Diluted net income (loss) per share
$
0.02

 
$
(0.34
)
 
$
0.03

 
$
(0.11
)
 
$
(0.14
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Weighted average number of shares outstanding (2)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Basic
559,367,075

 
576,354,258

 
650,106,225

 
674,832,393

 
663,910,194

Diluted
568,418,371

 
576,354,258

 
650,106,225

 
674,832,393

 
663,910,194

(1)
The consolidated statements of operations data for prior years has been retrospectively adjusted to reflect discontinued operations. Refer to Note 3, Discontinued Operations and Other Business Dispositions, for additional information.
(2)
The structure of the Company's common stock changed during the year ended December 31, 2016. Refer to Note 11, Stockholders' Equity, and Note 17, Income (Loss) per Share, for additional information.


32


 
As of December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
 
2014
 
2013
 
(in thousands)
Consolidated Balance Sheet Data:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Cash and cash equivalents
$
880,129

 
$
862,977

 
$
824,307

 
$
982,862

 
$
1,192,439

Working capital (deficit)
(61,051
)
 
(121,115
)
 
(128,283
)
 
91,460

 
394,340

Total assets
1,677,505

 
1,761,377

 
1,796,264

 
2,227,597

 
2,042,010

Total long-term liabilities
292,161

 
283,264

 
122,152

 
169,055

 
142,550

Total Groupon, Inc. Stockholders' Equity
250,973

 
264,420

 
469,398

 
762,826

 
713,651






33


ITEM 7. MANAGEMENT'S DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS OF FINANCIAL CONDITION AND RESULTS OF OPERATIONS
The following discussion and analysis of our financial condition and results of operations should be read together with our consolidated financial statements and related notes included under Item 8 of this Annual Report on Form 10-K. This discussion contains forward-looking statements about our business and operations. Our actual results may differ materially from those we currently anticipate as a result of many factors, including those we describe under "Risk Factors" and elsewhere in this Annual Report.
Overview
Groupon operates online local commerce marketplaces throughout the world that connect merchants to consumers by offering goods and services, generally at a discount. Consumers access those marketplaces through our websites, primarily localized groupon.com sites in many countries, and our mobile applications. Traditionally, local merchants have tried to reach consumers and generate sales through a variety of methods, including online advertising, paid telephone directories, direct mail, newspaper, radio, television and other promotions. By bringing the brick and mortar world of local commerce onto the Internet, Groupon is helping local merchants to attract customers and sell goods and services. We provide consumers with savings and help them discover what to do, eat, see and buy and where to travel.
We offer goods and services through our online local commerce marketplaces in three primary categories: Local, Goods and Travel. During 2017, we began shifting more of the focus on our websites and mobile applications in North America to offerings in our Local category, which we believe provides us with the greatest opportunity for long-term gross profit growth. As part of our growth strategy, we have also been developing and testing a number of product enhancements during the current year that are intended to make our offerings easier to use for both customers and merchants, including voucherless offerings that are linked to customer credit cards.
Our revenue from transactions in which we act as a third-party marketing agent is the purchase price paid by the customer, generally for a Groupon voucher, less the purchase price paid to the merchant. Our direct revenue from transactions in which we sell merchandise inventory in our Goods category is the purchase price paid by the customer. We generated revenue of $2,843.9 million during the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to $3,013.6 million during the year ended December 31, 2016.
In October 2016, we completed a strategic review of our international markets in connection with our efforts to optimize our global footprint and focus on the markets that we believe to have the greatest potential to benefit our long-term financial performance. Based on that review, we decided to focus our business on 15 core countries, which are primarily based in North America and EMEA, and to pursue strategic alternatives for our operations in the remaining 11 countries, which were primarily based in Asia and Latin America. The dispositions of our operations in those 11 countries were completed between November 2016 and March 2017. A business disposition that represents a strategic shift and has (or will have) a major effect on an entity's operations and financial results is reported as a discontinued operation. We determined that the decision reached by our management and Board of Directors to exit those 11 non-core countries, which comprised a substantial majority of our operations outside of North America and EMEA, represented a strategic shift in our business. Based on our review of quantitative and qualitative factors, we also determined that the disposition of the businesses in those 11 countries would have a major effect on our operations and financial results. As such, the financial results of our operations in those countries, including gains and losses on the dispositions, are presented as discontinued operations in our consolidated statements of operations. Unless otherwise stated, all financial information discussed herein represents results from continuing operations.
We previously organized our operations into three operating segments: North America, EMEA and Rest of World. As a result of the dispositions discussed above, which represented a substantial majority of our international operations outside of EMEA and resulted in changes to our internal reporting and leadership structure, we updated our segment disclosures in the first quarter of 2017 to report two operating segments: North America and International. See Note 18, Segment Information, for further information. For the year ended December 31, 2017, we derived 67.3% of our revenue from our North America segment and 32.7% of our revenue from our International segment.
In September 2015, we commenced a restructuring plan relating primarily to workforce reductions in our international operations. We also undertook workforce reductions in our North America segment. See Note 13, Restructuring, for additional information. In addition to workforce reductions in our ongoing markets, we ceased operations in 17 countries within our International segment from September 2015 through March 2016 in connection with our restructuring actions. Those country exits, which generally comprised our smallest international markets, resulted from a series of separate decisions made at different times during that period that were not part of an overall strategic shift. As a result of the restructuring actions that we have taken,


34


our operating expenses have decreased significantly in recent periods on a year-over-year basis. The actions under our restructuring plan were completed as of September 30, 2017.

How We Measure Our Business
We measure our business with several financial and operating metrics. We use those metrics to assess the progress of our business and make decisions on where to allocate capital, time and technology investments. Certain of the financial metrics are reported in accordance with U.S. GAAP and certain of those metrics are considered non-GAAP financial measures. As our business evolves, we may make changes in future periods to the key financial and operating metrics that we use to measure our business. For further information and reconciliations to the most applicable financial measures under U.S. GAAP, refer to our discussion under Non-GAAP Financial Measures in the Results of Operations section.
Financial Metrics
Gross billings. This metric represents the total dollar value of customer purchases of goods and services. For third- party revenue transactions, gross billings differs from third-party revenue reported in our consolidated statements of operations, which is presented net of the merchant's share of the transaction price. For direct revenue transactions, gross billings are equivalent to direct revenue reported in our consolidated statements of operations. We consider this metric to be an important indicator of our growth and business performance as it measures the dollar volume of transactions generated through our marketplaces. Tracking gross billings on third-party revenue transactions also allows us to monitor the percentage of gross billings that we are able to retain after payments to merchants.
Revenue. Third-party revenue, which is earned from transactions in which we act as a marketing agent, is reported on a net basis as the purchase price received from the customer less an agreed upon portion of the purchase price paid to the featured merchant. Direct revenue, which is earned from sales of merchandise inventory directly to customers through our online marketplaces, is reported on a gross basis as the purchase price received from the customer.
Gross profit. Gross profit reflects the net margin earned after deducting our cost of revenue from our revenue. Due to the lack of comparability between third-party revenue, which is presented net of the merchant's share of the transaction price, and direct revenue, which is reported on a gross basis, we believe that gross profit is an important measure for evaluating our performance.
Adjusted EBITDA. Adjusted EBITDA is a non-GAAP financial measure that we define as net income (loss) from continuing operations excluding income taxes, interest and other non-operating items, depreciation and amortization, stock-based compensation, acquisition-related expense (benefit), net and other special charges and credits, including items that are unusual in nature or infrequently occurring. For further information and a reconciliation to Income (loss) from continuing operations, refer to our discussion under Non-GAAP Financial Measures in the Results of Operations section.
Free cash flow. Free cash flow is a non-GAAP financial measure that comprises net cash provided by (used in) operating activities from continuing operations less purchases of property and equipment and capitalized software from continuing operations. For further information and a reconciliation to Net cash provided by (used in) operating activities from continuing operations, refer to our discussion in the Liquidity and Capital Resources section.
The following table presents the above financial metrics for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 (in thousands):
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016
 
2015
Gross billings
 
$
5,645,898

 
$
5,687,714

 
$
5,738,567

Revenue
 
2,843,877

 
3,013,615

 
2,954,816

Gross profit
 
1,333,861

 
1,280,653

 
1,287,810

Adjusted EBITDA
 
249,939

 
179,883

 
257,925

Free cash flow
 
78,339

 
60,641

 
234,467



35


Operating Metrics
Active customers. We have historically defined active customers as unique user accounts that have made a purchase through one of our online marketplaces during the trailing twelve months ("TTM"). As a result of our ongoing development and testing of voucherless offerings that are linked to customer credit cards, we have updated our definition of active customers as follows: unique user accounts that have made a purchase during the TTM either through one of our online marketplaces or directly with a merchant for which we earned a commission. This change in definition did not have a significant impact on our active customer count for the TTM ended December 31, 2017. We consider this metric to be an important indicator of our business performance as it helps us to understand how the number of customers actively purchasing our offerings is trending. Some customers could establish and make purchases from more than one account, so it is possible that our active customer metric may count certain customers more than once in a given period. For entities that we have acquired in a business combination, this metric includes active customers of the acquired entity, including customers who made purchases prior to the acquisition.
Gross billings and gross profit per average active customer. These metrics represent the TTM gross billings and gross profit generated per average active customer. We use these metrics to evaluate average customer spend and the resulting gross profit.
Units. This metric has historically represented the number of purchases made through our online marketplaces, before refunds and cancellations. As a result of our ongoing development and testing of voucherless offerings that are linked to customer credit cards, we have updated our definition of units as follows: purchases during the reporting period, before refunds and cancellations, made either through one of our online marketplaces or directly with a merchant for which we earned a commission. This change in definition did not have a significant impact on our unit count for the year ended December 31, 2017. We consider unit growth to be an important indicator of the total volume of business conducted through our marketplaces.
Our active customers and gross billings per average active customer for the TTM ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
 
 
Trailing twelve months ended December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016 (1)
 
2015 (1)
TTM Active customers (in thousands)
 
49,536

 
47,881

 
43,663

TTM Gross billings per average active customer
 
$
115.91

 
$
124.26

 
$
133.94

TTM Gross profit per average active customer
 
$
27.38

 
$
27.98

 
$
30.06

(1)
TTM Active customers has decreased from 52.8 million active customers previously reported to 47.9 million active customers for the year ended December 31, 2016 and from 48.9 million active customers to 43.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2015 due to the exclusion of customers from our operations in 11 countries that have been presented as discontinued operations. The exclusion of those countries' gross billings and active customers increased the TTM gross billings per average active customer from $119.97 previously reported to $124.26 for the year ended December 31, 2016 and from $129.98 previously reported to $133.94 for the year ended December 31, 2015.
Our units for the years ended December 31, 2017, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016 (1)
 
2015 (1)
Units (in thousands)
 
188,905

 
195,646

 
198,409

(1)
Units have been reduced from 214.3 million to 195.6 million for the year ended December 31, 2016 and from 220.8 million to 198.4 million for the year ended December 31, 2015 due to the exclusion of the units from our operations in 11 countries that have been presented as discontinued operations.
Factors Affecting Our Performance
Attracting and Retaining Local Merchants. As we seek to build a more complete online local commerce marketplace platform, we depend on our ability to attract and retain merchants who are willing to offer discounted products and services through our marketplaces. Additionally, merchants can generally withdraw their offerings from our marketplaces at any time and their willingness to continue offering products and services through our platform depends on the effectiveness of our marketing and promotional services. We primarily source the deal offerings available on our marketplaces through our sales teams, which comprise a significant portion of our global employee base. We have also entered into commercial agreements with third parties that enable


36


us to feature additional merchant offerings through our marketplaces. We continue to focus much of our sales efforts on sourcing local deal offerings in subcategories that we believe provide us with the best opportunities for high frequency customer purchase behavior. In connection with our efforts to grow our offerings in those high frequency subcategories, which include food and drink, health, beauty and wellness, and events and activities, we may be willing to offer more attractive terms to local merchants that could reduce our deal margins in future periods.
Growing our Active Customer Base and Customer Value. We must continue to acquire and retain customers and improve gross profit per customer in order to grow our business. We significantly increased our marketing spending throughout 2016 and 2017 in order to drive customer growth and we expect that trend to continue. Our marketing spending in those years included significant investments in offline campaigns intended to increase customer awareness and understanding of the Groupon brand and our product and service offerings. The organic traffic to our websites and mobile applications, including organic traffic from consumers responding to our emails, has declined in recent years, such that an increasing proportion of our traffic is generated from paid marketing channels, such as search engine marketing. As such, we are focused on developing sources of organic traffic other than email and on optimizing the efficiency of our marketing spending, which is primarily guided by return on investment thresholds that are currently based on expected months-to-payback targets ranging from 12 to 18 months. Additionally, we consider order discounts and certain other initiatives to drive customer acquisition and activation to be marketing-related activities, even though such activities may not be presented as marketing expenses in our consolidated statements of operations.
Investing in Growth. We have invested significantly in product and technology enhancements intended to support the growth of our online local marketplaces and we intend to continue to do so in the future. We have also invested in business acquisitions to grow our merchant and customer base and advance our product and technology capabilities. We are currently developing and testing a number of product enhancements intended to make our offerings easier to use for both customers and merchants, including voucherless offerings that are linked to customer credit cards, which we refer to as Groupon+, and functionality enabling appointment booking at the time an offering is purchased. While we believe that those initiatives may be important drivers for increasing customer purchase frequency and growing our business over time, they are not expected to significantly impact our performance in the near term, as we are currently focusing our efforts on growing customer awareness of the products and scaling the related merchant base. Additionally, Groupon+ offerings provide cash back on the customer's credit card and involve Groupon collecting a net fee from the merchant, rather than selling a voucher to the customer and then remitting a portion of the proceeds to the merchant. As we report sales of vouchers to customers as gross billings, the growth of Groupon+ transactions in future periods could adversely impact our gross billings trends.
Continuing to Focus on Managing our Operating Efficiency. We are focused on effectively managing our cost structure as we seek to generate and grow our profits in future periods. As a result of numerous divestitures and other exits from countries in which we previously operated, which were completed from 2015 through 2017, we reduced the global footprint of our operations from 47 countries to 15 countries. Additionally, we significantly reduced our global workforce over that period as a result of our restructuring actions. Those restructuring actions and our efforts to automate internal processes, which have allowed us to centralize many of our back office activities in lower cost shared service centers, resulted in significant reductions in our selling, general and administrative expenses during 2017 and 2016. We have primarily used those savings to invest in marketing and product enhancements intended to drive the growth of our business. Our restructuring actions were completed in September 2017. We intend to continue to focus on maintaining our operating efficiency.
Results of Operations
Gross Billings
Gross billings represents the total dollar value of customer purchases of goods and services. Gross billings is presented net of customer refunds, order discounts and sales and related taxes. In our Goods category, we generate gross billings from direct revenue transactions in which we sell merchandise inventory directly to customers, as well as third-party revenue transactions in which third-party merchants sell products through our marketplaces.


37


Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2017 and 2016:
Gross billings for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 were as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
Gross billings:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
$
3,991,579

 
$
3,798,441

 
$
193,138

 
5.1
 %
Direct
1,577,425

 
1,807,174

 
(229,749
)
 
(12.7
)
Other
76,894

 
82,099

 
(5,205
)
 
(6.3
)
Total gross billings
$
5,645,898

 
$
5,687,714

 
$
(41,816
)
 
(0.7
)
The effect on our gross billings for the year ended December 31, 2017 from changes in exchange rates versus the U.S. dollar was as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31, 2017
 
 
At Avg.
 
Exchange
 
 
 
 
2016
 
Rate
 
As
 
 
Rates (1)
 
Effect (2)
 
Reported
 
 
(in thousands)
Gross billings
 
$
5,619,119

 
$
26,779

 
$
5,645,898

(1)
Represents the financial statement balances that would have resulted had exchange rates in the reporting period been the same as those in effect in the prior year period.
(2)
Represents the increase or decrease in the reported amount resulting from changes in exchange rates from those in effect in the prior year period.
The decrease in gross billings for the year ended December 31, 2017 primarily resulted from an $8.7 million decrease in our North America segment and a $33.1 million decrease in our International segment. See below for information about gross billings by segment.
Gross Billings by Segment
Gross billings by segment for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 were as follows:    
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
North America:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
$
2,415,243

 
$
2,203,514

 
$
211,729

 
9.6
 %
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
114,638

 
42,696

 
71,942

 
168.5

Direct
993,326

 
1,297,810

 
(304,484
)
 
(23.5
)
Travel - Third-party
404,523

 
392,401

 
12,122

 
3.1

Total North America gross billings
3,927,730

 
3,936,421

 
(8,691
)
 
(0.2
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
International:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
812,785

 
802,403

 
10,382

 
1.3

Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
112,639

 
200,331

 
(87,692
)
 
(43.8
)
Direct
584,099

 
509,364

 
74,735

 
14.7

Travel - Third-party
208,645

 
239,195

 
(30,550
)
 
(12.8
)
Total International gross billings
1,718,168

 
1,751,293

 
(33,125
)
 
(1.9
)
Total gross billings
$
5,645,898

 
$
5,687,714

 
$
(41,816
)
 
(0.7
)


38


The percentages of gross billings by segment for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 were as follows:
2017
 
2016
groupon2016_chart-26989a01.jpg                                                                                     groupon2016_chart-27696a01.jpg
 
North America
 
 
International
North America
North America gross billings for the year ended December 31, 2017 were substantially consistent with the prior year, reflecting a $232.5 million decrease in our Goods category offset by increases of $211.7 million in our Local category and $12.1 million in our Travel category. Factors impacting North America segment gross billings included the following:
We shifted more of the focus on our websites and mobile applications toward offerings in our Local category in connection with our efforts to drive gross profit growth, which contributed to the decrease in Goods gross billings and the increase in Local gross billings;
Our active customers increased, driven by our continued investments in customer acquisition marketing;
LivingSocial, which we acquired during the fourth quarter of 2016, generated incremental gross billings of $75.7 million in Local, $12.8 million in Goods, and $11.7 million in Travel for the full year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to the gross billings generated during the two-month period following its acquisition in the prior year; and
Average customer spend decreased, as gross billings per average active customer were $122.71 for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to $139.94 in the prior year.
Order discounts, which are presented as a reduction of gross billings and revenue, decreased by $2.5 million to $164.7 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to $167.2 million in the prior year.
International
International gross billings decreased in 2017, reflecting a $13.0 million decrease in our Goods category and a $30.6 million decrease in our Travel category, partially offset by an increase of $10.4 million in our Local category. Factors impacting International segment gross billings included the following:
We shifted more of the focus on our websites and mobile applications toward offerings in our Local category in connection with our efforts to drive gross profit growth, which contributed to the decrease in Travel gross billings and the increase in Local gross billings;
We substantially eliminated Goods offerings from our marketplaces in Japan and Poland in connection with our efforts to de-emphasize lower margin product offerings, which resulted in a $13.0 million year-over-year reduction in Goods gross billings;
Our active customers increased, driven by our continued investments in customer acquisition marketing;
Average customer spend was flat, as gross billings per average active customer were $103.29 for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to $103.03 in the prior year; and
There was a $26.4 million favorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign currency rates.
Order discounts, which are presented as a reduction of gross billings and revenue, increased by $0.5 million to $43.3 million for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to $42.8 million in the prior year.


39


Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2016 and 2015:
Gross billings for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2016
 
2015
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
Gross billings:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
$
3,798,441

 
$
3,977,781

 
$
(179,340
)
 
(4.5
)%
Direct
1,807,174

 
1,704,667

 
102,507

 
6.0

Other
82,099

 
56,119

 
25,980

 
46.3

Total gross billings
$
5,687,714

 
$
5,738,567

 
$
(50,853
)
 
(0.9
)
The effect on our gross billings for the year ended December 31, 2016 from changes in exchange rates versus the U.S. dollar was as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31, 2016
 
 
At Avg.
 
Exchange
 
 
 
 
2015
 
Rate
 
As
 
 
Rates (1)
 
Effect (2)
 
Reported
 
 
(in thousands)
Gross billings
 
$
5,716,789

 
$
(29,075
)
 
$
5,687,714

(1)
Represents the financial statement balances that would have resulted had exchange rates in the reporting period been the same as those in effect in the prior year period.
(2)
Represents the increase or decrease in the reported amount resulting from changes in exchange rates from those in effect in the prior year period.
The decrease in gross billings for the year ended December 31, 2016 primarily resulted from a $277.5 million decrease in our International segment, partially offset by a $226.6 million increase in our North America segment.
Gross Billings by Segment
Gross billings by segment for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2016
 
2015
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
North America:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
$
2,203,514

 
$
2,024,698

 
$
178,816

 
8.8
 %
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
42,696

 
36,775

 
5,921

 
16.1

Direct
1,297,810

 
1,257,548

 
40,262

 
3.2

Travel - Third-party
392,401

 
390,776

 
1,625

 
0.4

Total North America gross billings
3,936,421

 
3,709,797

 
226,624

 
6.1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
International:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
802,403

 
929,430

 
(127,027
)
 
(13.7
)
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
200,331

 
368,802

 
(168,471
)
 
(45.7
)
Direct
509,364

 
447,119

 
62,245

 
13.9

Travel - Third-party
239,195

 
283,419

 
(44,224
)
 
(15.6
)
Total International gross billings
1,751,293

 
2,028,770

 
(277,477
)
 
(13.7
)
Total gross billings
$
5,687,714

 
$
5,738,567

 
$
(50,853
)
 
(0.9
)


40


The percentages of gross billings by segment for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
2016
 
2015
groupon2016_chart-28411a01.jpg                                                                                     groupon2016_chart-29123a01.jpg
 
North America
 
 
International
North America
The overall increase in North America segment gross billings reflects increases in our Local and Goods categories. Those increases were primarily attributable to the following:
our significant incremental marketing spend to accelerate customer growth. North America marketing expense increased by $102.3 million, 63.6%, for the year ended December 31, 2016, as compared to the prior year period, driving a significant increase in active customers during 2016; and
our focus on increasing the coverage of our offerings and improving the quality of offerings available through our marketplaces.
These items resulted in increases to both active customers and units sold in North America. Those increases were partially offset by increased order discounts and lower gross billings per average active customer. Order discounts increased $42.0 million to $167.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2016, as compared to $125.2 million for the prior year. Our new customer additions contributed to lower gross billings per average active customer in North America as those new customers did not yet have a full twelve months of purchasing history.
Gross billings in our North America Goods category increased by 3.6% during the year ended December 31, 2016, as compared to the prior year. This represented a lower rate of growth than our Goods category had historically generated, which we believe resulted, in part, from our strategic initiative to de-emphasize lower margin product offerings in that category.
The gross billings from Living Social were $22.7 million from its October 31, 2016 acquisition date through December 31, 2016
International
The overall decrease in International segment gross billings reflects decreases across our Local, Travel and Goods categories. The decrease in International gross billings was primarily attributable to the following:
a $182.6 million reduction related to countries that we operated in during the prior year period and have subsequently exited as part of our restructuring plan and the disposition of our operations in Russia, India and Indonesia;
a $28.0 million unfavorable impact from year-over-year changes in foreign currency exchange rates; and
the substantial elimination of Goods offerings from our marketplace in Japan during the second half of 2016, which we undertook in connection with our strategic initiative to de-emphasize lower margin product offerings.
Additionally, although International active customers increased, units sold and gross billings per average active customer decreased as compared to the year ended December 31, 2015. Those decreases were driven by the countries we exited as part of our restructuring plan. The overall decrease in International segment gross billings was partially offset by an increase in direct revenue transactions in our Goods category.


41


Revenue
Third-party revenue arises from transactions in which we are acting as a marketing agent primarily by selling vouchers through our online local commerce marketplaces that can be redeemed for goods or services with third-party merchants. Our third-party revenue from those transactions is reported on a net basis as the purchase price received from the customer, less an agreed upon portion of the purchase price paid to the merchant.
Direct revenue arises from transactions in our Goods category in which we sell merchandise inventory directly to customers through our online marketplaces. The direct revenue that we earn from those transactions is reported on a gross basis as the purchase price we receive from the customer.
Other revenue primarily consists of commission revenue earned when customers make purchases with retailers using digital coupons accessed through our websites and mobile applications and advertising revenue. In the current year, other revenue includes commissions from merchants from voucherless offerings that are linked to customer credit cards. In prior periods, other revenue also included payment processing revenue.
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2017 and 2016:
Revenue for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
( dollars in thousands)
Revenue:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
$
1,189,558

 
$
1,124,342

 
$
65,216

 
5.8
 %
Direct
1,577,425

 
1,807,174

 
(229,749
)
 
(12.7
)
Other
76,894

 
82,099

 
(5,205
)
 
(6.3
)
Total revenue
$
2,843,877

 
$
3,013,615

 
$
(169,738
)
 
(5.6
)
The effect on revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 from changes in exchange rates versus the U.S. dollar was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31, 2017
 
At Avg. 2016 Rates (1)
 
Exchange Rate Effect (2)
 
As Reported
 
(in thousands)
Revenue
$
2,825,004

 
$
18,873

 
$
2,843,877

(1)
Represents the financial statement balance that would have resulted had exchange rates in the reporting period been the same as those in effect in the prior year period.
(2)
Represents the increase or decrease in the reported amount resulting from changes in exchange rates from those in effect in the prior year period.
The decrease in total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 resulted from a $237.6 million decrease in our North America segment, partially offset by a $67.9 million increase in our International segment. See below for information about revenue by segment.


42


Revenue by Segment
Revenue by category and segment for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
North America:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
$
825,579

 
$
762,314

 
$
63,265

 
8.3
 %
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
16,768

 
9,068

 
7,700

 
84.9

Direct
993,326

 
1,297,810

 
(304,484
)
 
(23.5
)
Travel - Third-party
78,495

 
82,577

 
(4,082
)
 
(4.9
)
Total North America revenue
1,914,168

 
2,151,769

 
(237,601
)
 
(11.0
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
International:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
281,466

 
270,045

 
11,421

 
4.2

Goods:
 
 
 
 

 
 
Third-party
20,358

 
32,681

 
(12,323
)
 
(37.7
)
Direct
584,099

 
509,364

 
74,735

 
14.7

Travel - Third-party
43,786

 
49,756

 
(5,970
)
 
(12.0
)
Total International revenue
929,709

 
861,846

 
67,863

 
7.9

Total revenue
$
2,843,877

 
$
3,013,615

 
$
(169,738
)
 
(5.6
)
The percentages of revenue by segment for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 were as follows:
2017
 
2016
groupon2016_chart-29759a01.jpg                                                                                     groupon2016_chart-30446a01.jpg
 
North America
 
 
International
    


43


The percentages of third-party and other gross billings that we retained after deducting the merchant's share for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 were as follows:
North America
 
International
groupon2016_chart-31387a01.jpg             groupon2016_chart-32124a01.jpg             
North America
The decrease in North America segment revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 reflects a $296.8 million decrease in our Goods category. As discussed above, we are increasingly focusing the business on initiatives that are intended to optimize for gross profit to a greater extent than revenue, particularly in our North America segment, including shifting more of the focus on our websites and mobile applications toward offerings in our Local category. The resulting shift in North America gross billings away from our Goods category adversely impacted revenue in the current period, as direct revenue transactions in our Goods category are presented on a gross basis.
The decrease in revenue in our Goods category was partially offset by a $63.3 million increase in third-party and other revenue in our Local category. That increase in Local revenue was primarily attributable to the increases in Local gross billings as discussed above. Additionally, there was a $5.5 million increase in breakage revenue from customer credits and gift cards for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to the prior year.
The percentage of gross billings that we retained after deducting the merchant’s share in third-party and other revenue transactions across our three categories decreased to 31.4% for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to 32.4% in the prior year period. The percentage of gross billings that we retain after deducting the merchant's share reflects the overall results of individual deal-by-deal negotiations with merchants and can vary significantly from period-to-period.
LivingSocial, which we acquired during the fourth quarter of 2016, generated incremental revenue of $32.0 million in Local, $10.9 million in Goods, and $1.0 million in Travel for the full year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to the revenue generated during the two-month period following its acquisition in the prior year.
International
The increase in International segment revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 reflects a $62.4 million increase in our Goods category, which was primarily attributable to an increase in the percentage of direct revenue transactions in that category to total International revenue of 62.8% for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to 59.1% in the prior year period. This increase favorably impacted revenue in the current period, as direct revenue transactions in our Goods category are presented on a gross basis.
The $11.4 million     increase in our Local category and the $6.0 million decrease in our Travel category were primarily attributable to the related changes in gross billings, as discussed above. Additionally, other revenue transactions in our Local category increased during the current year due to commission revenue earned when customers make purchases with retailers using digital coupons accessed through our websites and mobile applications.
The percentage of gross billings that we retained after deducting the merchant’s share on third party and other revenue transactions across our three categories increased to 30.5% for the year ended December 31, 2017, as compared to 28.4% in the prior year period. The percentage of gross billings that we retain after deducting the merchant's share reflects the overall results of individual deal-by-deal negotiations with merchants and can vary significantly from period-to-period.


44


There was a $19.0 million favorable impact on International segment revenue from year-over-year changes in foreign exchange rates for the year ended December 31, 2017.
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2016 and 2015:
Revenue for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2016
 
2015
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
Revenue:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
$
1,124,342

 
$
1,194,030

 
$
(69,688
)
 
(5.8
)%
Direct
1,807,174

 
1,704,667

 
102,507

 
6.0

Other
82,099

 
56,119

 
25,980

 
46.3

Total revenue
$
3,013,615

 
$
2,954,816

 
$
58,799

 
2.0

The effect on revenue for the year ended December 31, 2016 from changes in exchange rates versus the U.S. dollar was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31, 2016
 
At Avg. 2015 Rates (1)
 
Exchange Rate Effect (2)
 
As Reported
 
(in thousands)
Revenue
$
3,024,390

 
$
(10,775
)
 
$
3,013,615

(1)
Represents the financial statement balance that would have resulted had exchange rates in the reporting period been the same as those in effect in the prior year period.
(2)
Represents the increase or decrease in the reported amount resulting from changes in exchange rates from those in effect in the prior year period.
The increase in total revenue for the year ended December 31, 2016 resulted from a $104.0 million increase in our North America segment, partially offset by a $45.2 million decrease in our International segment. See below for information about revenue by segment.
Revenue by Segment
Revenue by category and segment for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2016
 
2015
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
North America:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
$
762,314

 
$
701,312

 
$
61,002

 
8.7
 %
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
9,068

 
7,151

 
1,917

 
26.8

Direct
1,297,810

 
1,257,548

 
40,262

 
3.2

Travel - Third-party
82,577

 
81,731

 
846

 
1.0

Total North America revenue
2,151,769

 
2,047,742

 
104,027

 
5.1

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
International:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
270,045

 
335,112

 
(65,067
)
 
(19.4
)
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
32,681

 
65,361

 
(32,680
)
 
(50.0
)
Direct
509,364

 
447,119

 
62,245

 
13.9

Travel - Third-party
49,756

 
59,482

 
(9,726
)
 
(16.4
)
Total International revenue
861,846

 
907,074

 
(45,228
)
 
(5.0
)
Total revenue
$
3,013,615

 
$
2,954,816

 
$
58,799

 
2.0



45


The percentages of revenue by segment for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
2016
 
2015
groupon2016_chart-33551a01.jpg                                                                                     groupon2016_chart-34440a01.jpg
 
North America
 
 
International
The percentages of third-party and other gross billings that we retained after deducting the merchant's share for the years ended December 31, 2016 and 2015 were as follows:
North America
 
International
groupon2016_chart-35033a01.jpg             groupon2016_chart-35688a01.jpg             
North America
The increase in North America segment revenue reflects increases in our Local and Goods categories. Those revenue increases resulted from the increases in gross billings. As discussed above, those increases were primarily attributable to our significant incremental marketing spend to accelerate customer growth, as well as our focus on increasing the coverage of our offerings and improving the quality of offerings available through our marketplaces. Additionally, other revenue transactions in our Local category increased during the year ended December 31, 2016, which was primarily attributable to commission revenue earned when customers make purchases with retailers using digital coupons accessed through our websites and mobile applications.
The percentage of gross billings that we retained after deducting the merchant’s share on third-party and other revenue transactions was 32.4%, which was consistent with the prior year.
The revenue from Living Social was $9.3 million from its October 31, 2016 acquisition date through December 31, 2016
We sell Groupon gift cards that can be used to make purchases through our online marketplaces. Those gift cards have no expiration dates and administrative fees are not charged on unused gift cards. During the fourth quarter of 2016, we concluded that we had developed sufficient historical evidence regarding the pattern of customer redemptions of Groupon gift cards to have the ability to estimate the portion of gift cards that will never be redeemed ("breakage"). As a result, we recorded $6.4 million of gift card breakage revenue for the year ended December 31, 2016, including $4.3 million attributed to third party and other revenue and $2.1 million attributed to direct revenue, which represented our estimate of cumulative gift card breakage through the balance sheet date based on the proportion of customer redemptions to total expected redemptions.


46


International
The decrease in International segment revenue reflects decreases in our Local and Travel categories and in third-party revenue transactions in our Goods category. Those revenue decreases were primarily attributable to the decreases in gross billings as discussed above in addition to the following:
the decreases in the percentage of gross billings that we retained after deducting the merchant's share for third-party and other revenue transactions. For the year ended December 31, 2016, that percentage decreased to 28.4%, as compared to 29.1% in the prior year. We have been willing to accept lower deal margins in order to improve the quality and increase the number of deals offered to our customers by offering more attractive terms to merchants;
a $70.7 million reduction related to countries that we operated in during the prior year period and have subsequently exited as part of our restructuring plan and the dispositions of our operations in Russia, India and Indonesia; and
a $10.5 million unfavorable impact on revenue from year-over-year changes in foreign currency exchange rates.
Those decreases were partially offset by an increase in direct revenue transactions in our Goods category.
Cost of Revenue
For direct revenue transactions, cost of revenue includes the cost of inventory, shipping and fulfillment costs and inventory markdowns. Fulfillment costs are comprised of third-party logistics provider costs, as well as rent, depreciation, personnel costs and other costs of operating our fulfillment center. For third-party revenue transactions, cost of revenue includes estimated refunds for which the merchant's share is not recoverable. Other costs incurred to generate revenue, which include credit card processing fees, editorial costs, compensation expense for technology support personnel who are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure of our websites, amortization of internal-use software relating to customer-facing applications, web hosting and other processing fees, are attributed to cost of third-party revenue, direct revenue and other revenue in proportion to gross billings during the period.
Comparison of the Years Ended December 31, 2017 and 2016:
Cost of revenue on third-party, direct revenue and other revenue for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 was as follows:
 
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
 
2017
 
2016
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
 
(dollars in thousands)
Cost of revenue:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
 
$
159,825

 
$
142,975

 
$
16,850

 
11.8
 %
Direct
 
1,349,206

 
1,582,931

 
(233,725
)
 
(14.8
)
Other
 
985

 
7,056

 
(6,071
)
 
(86.0
)
Total cost of revenue
 
$
1,510,016

 
$
1,732,962

 
$
(222,946
)
 
(12.9
)
The effect on cost of revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 from changes in exchange rates versus the U.S. dollar was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
At Avg. 2016 Rates (1)
 
Exchange Rate Effect (2)
 
As Reported
 
(in thousands)
Cost of revenue
$
1,496,302

 
$
13,714

 
$
1,510,016

(1)
Represents the financial statement balance that would have resulted had exchange rates in the reporting period been the same as those in effect in the prior year period.
(2)
Represents the increase or decrease in the reported amount resulting from changes in exchange rates from those in effect in the prior year period.
The decrease in total cost of revenue for the year ended December 31, 2017 resulted from a $279.7 million decrease in our North America segment, partially offset by a $56.8 million increase in our International segment. See below for information about cost of revenue by segment.


47


Cost of Revenue by Segment
Cost of revenue by category and segment for the years ended December 31, 2017 and 2016 was as follows:
 
Year Ended December 31,
 
2017
 
2016
 
$ Change
 
% Change
 
(dollars in thousands)
North America:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
$
117,006

 
$
101,331

 
$
15,675

 
15.5
 %
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
3,839

 
1,598

 
2,241

 
140.2

Direct
847,744

 
1,145,071

 
(297,327
)
 
(26.0
)
Travel - Third-party
17,901

 
18,222

 
(321
)
 
(1.8
)
Total North America cost of revenue
986,490

 
1,266,222

 
(279,732
)
 
(22.1
)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
International:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Local - Third-party and other
16,118

 
19,610

 
(3,492
)
 
(17.8
)
Goods:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Third-party
2,448

 
4,705

 
(2,257
)
 
(48.0
)
Direct
501,462

 
437,860