Groupon Picks Up Breadcrumb For A Little Point-of-Sale Magic

Groupon just announced via its blog that it has acquired Breadcrumb, the creators of an affordable point of sale system and iPad app that targets local restaurants.

While the terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, Groupon has made a run of acquisitions over the last six months, and this move is likely one being made half for talent and half for access to the startup’s client roster. That being said, we’re hearing from sources close to the deal that the acquisition price was in the $10 to $15 million range, with a sizable retention pool for founder Seth Harris along with the sales and support team that will be staying on.

The move comes as the daily deals behemoth looks to create more defined inroads with local mom and pop restaurants in accordance with its post-IPO mission to become “the OS for local commerce” — adding Breadcrumb and its technology to the fold is a step in that direction.

The Breadcrumb buy is the latest in a slew of startup talent and tech acquisitions Groupon has made since going public last year — as far as we can tell, its eighth acquisition since November. In March, Groupon added FeeFighters to the fold, which followed the likes of Mertado, Adku, Campfire Labs, Hyperpublic, Kima Labs, and Uptake into Camp Groupon. And, again, all of those acquisitions have come since November.

After all the grumbling surrounding Groupon’s high valuation and blockbuster IPO, it seems that the company has been quietly ignoring detractors and is — at least by its own standards — on somewhat of a hot streak. Not two weeks ago Groupon beat estimates in its second quarterly earnings report since going public, seeing $559.3 million in revenue in Q1 2012, up 89 percent year-over-year, as well as increasing the total amount of money collected from customers for Groupons sold to $1.35 billion, up 103 percent, as Frederic reported.

As a result, analysts have been far more positive on Groupon than they have in the past, thanks to acceleration in revenues at home (North America revenue grew 33 percent Q/Q) and a decline in marketing spend (down 25 percent Q/Q). While the company is spending money and really putting a lot of focus into growing abroad (see more on this here), the unsung hero of this positive outlook really seems to be Groupon’s reinvestment in technology — a lot of which is owed to its recent talent and tech acquisitions.

As CEO Andrew Mason said in his recent letter to shareholders, in total, Groupon has made 11 acquisitions in the last year, and the plan going forward is to integrate all of these acquisitions into a “platform for local commerce.”

Groupon’s initial value centered around its being a marketing tool to connect consumers and merchants, but as Mason said at the time, the company’s mission (as part of phase two) is to “move upstream and serve as the entry point for local transactions.”

The acquisition of Breadcrumb fits squarely into this mission, as the point of sale (POS) solution allows local merchants to cut the cord, take orders table-side and update their menus as they go using Breadcrumb’s wireless technology built for iOS. The solution is designed to be flexible, allowing merchants to add or remove devices from their network easily, and easy enough that merchants can set up themselves and have it up and running in the same day.

On top of that, Breadcrumb allows merchants to download their venue data and do with it as they please, keeping physical records or running their own reports, on top of speedy device registration.

To sustain its upswing, Groupon needs to become an end-to-end commerce solution for local merchants, from marketing and scheduling, to integration with smart point of sale systems, to offer tracking, analytics, and better ways for merchants to retain customers (and find new ones) — both on the Web and on mobile. It’s a tall order, but one that could create an actual valuable service for merchants — not to mention the fact that it comes with a lofty price tag, in that local commerce is a multi-trillion-dollar business.

As for Breadcrumb users? Judging by the company’s statement, the startup (and app) will continue to exist and operate both “for new and existing clients,” but obviously this means that Groupon now has access to the startup’s client list, and Breadcrumb gets to reach a wider audience.

What’s more, we’re hearing from sources that Breadcrumb founder Seth Harris will be staying on, running Breadcrumb at Groupon as part of a newly created company called Groupon Pospitality. Groupon will be putting the Kima Labs team (which they acquired in February) on the project to take over development, according to sources.

Breadcrumb was designed in collaboration with mobile content development company, Two Bulls, and the startup’s founder, Noah Harlan, who co-conceived the app along with Harris.

The startup’s website is currently down, but you can find it here.

Find Groupon’s announcement below:

We are excited to announce that Groupon has acquired Breadcrumb! The team behind Breadcrumb shares our passion to build affordable and intuitive products that make it easier for local merchants to manage their business. We’re thrilled to welcome founder Seth Harris and his team to the Groupon family – Seth boasts more than 12 years of hospitality management experience, making him uniquely empathetic to the tight budgets and unique needs of business owners in the food and beverage industry who often struggle to find technology products that will work perfectly for them.

Breadcrumb will continue to serve new and existing clients and we look forward to offering their product to our existing merchant partners. Also, for Groupon merchant partners that use Breadcrumb’s point of sale system, we’ll be able to significantly improve the process of redeeming a Groupon.

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