Sorry City Planners, Groupon Isn’t Really Looking For You, Per Se


Daily deal site Groupon is close to launching its long-planned IPO soon, which means the company has been a newsworthy topic lately.

Why does Groupon matter? It popularized daily deals and spurred economic activity for local merchants. Yadda yadda yadda. (Disclosure: I have personally made one Groupon purchase in my life, and I have benefitted from a few bought by friends.)

Why does Groupon matter to me? Rocky Agrawal (from reDesign) presented a chart of Groupon’s employee mix–all 10,000+ of them. What popped out at me was 3 percent of Groupon’s total employees were “City planners” (see chart below).

Groupon Employee Mix

I had no idea that Groupon employed city planners, which intrigued me. After all the layoffs and cost cutting by local governments, city planning seems to be a dying and less desirable field.

City planners represented the smallest employee group at Groupon, which Agrawal described as being “responsible for scheduling deals.” That did not really make sense, so i looked further. From the company’s recent S-1, the company described the role of city planners within its Business Operations Unit (emphasis mine)[1. Page 80]:

Our city planners identify merchant leads and manage deal scheduling to maximize deal quality and variety within our markets. In identifying leads, city planners rank local merchants based on reviews, local feedback and other data. In certain cases, city planners submit requests to merchant services representatives for certain deals based on a scoring system that considers past performance of similar deals, quality of merchant reviews, number of redemption locations and the zip code of the merchant. In scheduling deals, city planners review deals in our merchant pool and determine which deals to offer based on the viability of the deal as well as gross profit and marketing goals. City planners also work with our salesforce to establish sales quotas based on subcategory-level performance in a particular city, such as addressable market size and scheduling diversity. As of March 31, 2011, we employed 410 city planners.

Yes, it is more of a marketing position, but there are some planning-related elements (at least with the analysis portion). There are no current U.S. job openings (as of this writing), so I searched elsewhere to see what exactly a city planner does for Groupon.

From a vacancy listing at Groupon Indonesia, the requirements for a city planner are (emphasis mine):

    – Candidate must possess at least a Bachelor Degree, any field.
    Excellent appearance and attractive.
    – Smart, Fun and Up to date.
    – Knows Jakarta very well, especially the latest trend and hype in Jakarta.
    – Often hang out and have a lot of friends.
    – Computer Literate (Ms. Office) and Internet Surfing.

Yes, it seems to be a part marketing and part sales position.

Unfortunately for you traditional city planners, Groupon is not your refuge.

[images via TopNews (top) | reDesign (bottom)]

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