Groupon Simply Can't Afford to Pay Its Writers Well

Did you catch the big Sunday NYT story about Groupon's plans to become a bazillion-dollar company by having clever 20somethings write its ads? It was something!

We've already touched on the downsides of the Groupon business model: low pay for writers, and a distinct potential for unsavvy business owners to get financially murdered on the deals. These are also the things that make Groupon the hottest business on the internet! The somewhat unbelievable premise of the NYT's piece is that Groupon's army of cutesy writers will allow it to beat its one jillion clone-like competitors.

Another reason the employment skews young is because the pay for new writers is less than extravagant - about $37,000 a year. This is a touchy subject with Groupon management, which says it is offering the going rate for workers in their early twenties...
"If we ran an irresponsibly high overhead, it could jeopardize our ability to stay ahead in an unprecedentedly crowded space," says Mr. With, the editor in chief.

Paying these kids more would be irresponsible! In this non-public company. Furthermore, with such low wages, Groupon can afford to have an editorial process that "is now eight stages long." Increasing middle management: the mark of all sassy young internet success stories.

And what do all those underpaid aspiring comedian writers and aspiring comedian editors get you? An endless supply of creative descriptions of laser hair treatment centers, along the lines of "Clubbers first discovered laser hair removal when laser-lighted DJ sets mysteriously resulted in zigzag-patterned goatees and missing ponytails."

We feel for you, underpaid aspiring young writers. We're sure that you're trying to make the best of your situation. But make no mistake: Groupon's executives are about to be rich as shit. And the idea that they have to pay you peanuts is ridiculous. Shit, if you're going to be underpaid, at least go into actual journalism. If you're just writing ads, you need a better contract.

[NYT. Photo: Groupon/ Flickr]