All Things Digital reports that Groupon has acquired Pelago, the company behind location-based check-in service Whrrl, for an undisclosed amount. Whrrl allows users to check in to locations and discover new businesses nearby, while the Groupon iOS app simply shows nearby deals.
Could Groupon - the leader and pioneer in the deals space - overshadow efforts by other LBS services to bring deals to check-ins, by bringing check-ins to deals?
According to All Things Digital's Tricia Duryee, Pelago founder Jeff Holden will oversee Groupon's product development as part of the acquisition, which was just announced on Groupon's blog. GroupOn CEO Andrew Mason made the announcement:
We've always liked CEO Jeff Holden, the Whrrl team and the technology they've developed. Their obsession with real-world serendipitous discovery, or "Anti-Search," is core to Groupon's mission. It's about discovering what you didn't know you didn't know, right in your own backyard. Jeff intimately gets consumer buying behavior and the importance of a great user experience, and his team is this awesome combination of data-driven creatives...the people who create smart products that are really fun to use.
According to the blog post, Whrrl will be "retiring" on April 30, 2011. Holden goes on to describe why the marriage of the two companies is "non-strange" on the Pelago blog.
You might think at first that this is strange... But it actually makes a ton of sense. Many people think of Groupon as one thing: the inventor of the daily deal. But as it often is in such cases, there is an amazing vision behind the company that goes far beyond what is visible on the surface today. Whrrl's mission has always been to increase the possibility of adventure in our daily real-world lives, and to that end, we invented an idea economy (with Whrrlbot as its inexhaustible champion!) It turns out that Groupon has a very similar mission, except they approached it by creating a new kind of deal economy.
We expect this to mean that, soon enough, the mobile Groupon app will go far beyond simply identifying nearby deals and pointing to them on a map. As Holden notes out, "Groupon's massive adoption and meteoric growth" made the deal a "no-brainer" and should also put companies like Foursquare on notice. Foursquare asks users to check in for the possibility of serendipitous encounters, points, tips, and possibly, just maybe, a deal. Groupon holds deals at the core and may just use them to convince users to check in.