Groupon's Bay Area Connection

Groupon on Friday became a publicly traded company, marking the first IPO in the daily-deal industry, which could ripple out into a more mature Groupon and fiercer competition from places like LivingSocial and Google.

Groupon's IPO has been a long-time coming, and Friday marks an era when things begin to get really interesting. The stock price (GRPN) opened at $20 per share, and has already risen to $28.50 as of press time.

The Chicago-based dealmaker recently expanded its footprint in California by opening a Palo Alto office and acquiring San Mateo-based Ludic Labs. The Palo Alto staff expected to grow from 25 people to more than 100 within the next year, according to Groupon.

Critics are coming from all circles to warn against buying stocks. Earlier this week, Howard Tullman enthusiastically praised Groupon for raising interest in Chicago business on the national scale, but advised and predicted many investors would -- and should -- wait until things die down on the IPO to sink money into it.

No one at Groupon was available for comment Friday; however a spokesperson said, via e-mail, "Today's a significant step in Groupon's journey, but it's not the finish line. We're committed to innovating ways to change local retail for consumers and local businesses. It's great to pause and recognize what we've accomplished, but we're focused on building a long-term business that really changes people's expectations of local commerce."

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