Lastminute ‘could have been Groupon’, but for innovation deficit

Lastminute ‘could have been Groupon’, but for innovation deficit was just steps away from becoming Groupon long before the daily deals model was invented but failed to take the opportunity because it had lost a culture of innovation.

That was the assessment of Lopo Champalimaud, now chief executive and co-founder of health and beauty site Wahanda and former Lastminute managing director of European lifestyle.

He told a Travolution Summit session on innovation that he had spoken recently to Lastminute co-founder Brent Hoberman and laughed about the missed opportunity. During the original dot com bubble Lastminute had a database of 15 million emails, and was the largest source of restaurant and hotel deals, Champalimaud said.

“At the heart you have to put a culture of innovation in a business and a culture of development. At Lastminute we were a few steps away from having Groupon,” he said. But he added the reason the chance was let slip was because “we lost that culture of innovation and development”.

“If you are not ready to step up and allow it to fail, you are not going to get the right answer,” added Champalimaud. US giant Groupon is the most high profile daily deals site to emerge in recent times becoming the fastest growing corporation in US history.

It has filed for an IPO valuing the company at around $30 billion and claims to have 83 million subscribers and more than 56,000 merchants. Although recording revenues of $644 million in the quarter ending in March this year its operating losses were $117 million.

Earlier at the summit Ariadne Capital founder Julie Meyer was asked about the valuation of Groupon. She said: “Groupon may go down in history as the company that turned down the $600 million deal [from Google]. I’m not sure why they did that.”

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