The fact that Groupon, a two-year old startup, refused six billion offer from Google is the stuff of legends. For most people, myself included, this was just unfathomable. While we may never know the real reason for Groupon refusing to grab the Google money and run, there is an upcoming book Groupon’s Biggest Deal Ever: The Inside Story of How One Insane Gamble, Tons of Unbelievable Hype, and Millions of Wild Deals Made Billions for One Ballsy Joker by Frank Sennett that suggests that big data analytics had something to do with it.
According to early reviewers of the book, one of the deciding factors not to accept Google’s offer was a very persuasive argument by Nitin Sharma, a data scientist who just joined Groupon from Google. Allegedly, he was able to persuade the Groupon Board of Directors that by leveraging big data analytics Groupon would be able to increase its revenues ten fold. Admittedly, Groupon stock has not done so well dropping to half the price since the IPO. However, the company today is still worth more than what Google has offered proving naysayers like myself wrong.
And what of predictions by Nitin Sharma that Groupon can score big revenue increase by doing better data analysis? It appears that he was right on the money. A couple of weeks ago Groupon reported that its revenue grew nearly 90%. Top reason cited for the revenue growth – better targeting of daily offers based on deeper data analysis.
If you are wondering what technology Groupon uses for its data analysis think Apache Hadoop. Groupon has been building a world-class Hadoop infrastructure and has been hiring lots of engineering talent. High demand for big data skills has been a persistent theme for the last couple of years. This ever-growing demand and constrained supply of skills are driving the salaries up and prompting many computer professionals to consider getting skilled in big data. As operators of the BigDataUniversity.com we see this demand first hand. We are close to 25,000 registered students and growing very fast. A couple of weeks ago we had 3,000 people register in one day. BigDataUniversity.com may not make you in to big data scientist overnight, but if you are willing to put in a bit of time, you will find free courses that you can do at your own pace whenever you have some free time from the comfort of your couch. Our students love video-based delivery and they really appreciate free products that can be used on the cloud (our sponsors will even kick in $25).
Nitin Sharma’s LinkedIn profile list this as his core skill set:
Nitin’s core expertise lies in mining very large (Terabytes or more) data sets to find directly actionable insights that target structural inefficiencies in existing businesses, or identify new/overlooked business opportunities.
I don’t know how accurate is the account of the impact Nitin Sharma’s had on Groupon’s refusal to take $6 billion from Google. I am, however, convinced that we are going to be very busy with BigDataUniversity.com as more people are going to look for big data skill to put on their resume.