Social commerce site Groupon is on fire. Everywhere I go, people are talking about it or trying to copy it. The Chicago-based startup just hired a big gun. Rob Solomon is joining as the company’s president. Solomon is a venture partner at Technology Crossover Ventures, which he joined after selling travel search engine SideStep to Kayak for $200 million. He was the CEO at SideStep, and prior to that was the VP of Yahoo Shopping.
Now will help lead fast-growing Groupon. Founder Andrew Mason will remain CEO. “Social commerce is something I have always been fascinated with,” Solomon tells me. He thinks that the virality that comes with online social connections will take e-commerce to the next level. Groupon offers group buying at the local level which is only triggered once a certain minimum number of participants agree to buy. As local businesses try to figure out what will replace the Yellow Pages and radio advertising, Groupon hopes to fill in that gap.
The company’s “growth is spectacular in revenues and users,” says Solomon, without going into more details (but the numbers are spectacular enough for him to move from sunny Silicon Valley to Chicago). The company operates in 45 markets, has made 2.5 million group purchases on behalf of customers so far, and says it’s saved them $117 million. Groupon recently raised $30 million at a rumored $250 million valuation. And, yes, it is still hiring.