Facebook unveils Groupon rival 'Deals'

By The Associated Press


SAN FRANCISCO — Facebook Inc. said on Tuesday it has begun testing a new service called “Deals,” which will allow users of the social networking service in certain cities to receive discounts on local services and activities.

The new feature, which is similar to the daily discount service popularized by Groupon Inc., will be available initially in Atlanta; Austin, Texas; Dallas; San Diego; and San Francisco, Facebook said.

Closely held Facebook’s announcement comes shortly after Google Inc. began making an early version of its own daily deals service available in certain cities.

Users can either receive discount offers via email or through a Deals site on Facebook, the company said. Facebook, which has attracted over 600 million users, said that in certain cases, users will be able to see which deals that their social contacts have purchased. “If your friends chose to share this information, you may also see the deals friends buy or like in your News Feed,” the company said.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook’s move comes after it launched a service called Check-In Deals, which enabled users to receive local deals after they’d “checked in” via a mobile phone.

Early deals available on the new service in San Francisco, for example, include a private party and dinner at a local Bolivian restaurant for 20 people for $1,000, and a Stand Up Paddleboard class in nearby Santa Cruz for $35.

Chicago-based Groupon has attracted a rapidly growing number of subscribers to its daily deals service, and now employs over 7,000 people worldwide. The company is expected to undertake an initial public offering of shares later this year.

Google’s daily deals service, Google Offers, became available via email to users in cities including Portland, Ore., last week. Google says it will “partner with some of the best local businesses in your area to bring you great deals at 50 percent off or more.”

Google reportedly sought to buy Groupon for as much as $6 billion last year.

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