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Best bet about where Groupon’s stock price will be in 2017

Audience Choice, City Life, River West No Comments »

Zero
Whatever shifts in management may come, however the stock market may judge fairly or unfairly, Google will finally succeed in its once-quashed plans and will absorb them for a nickel on the dollar. GoogPons, anyone? And it would be convenient to merge Chicago’s nearby River North Google operations into the Montgomery Ward building (except for all the rush hour pile-in, pile-out stops at 600 West Chicago by the Chicago 66 CTA bus).

Audience choice: 0

Best of Chicago 2012

Best daily-deals site

Audience Choice, Goods & Services No Comments »

Gilt City

Groupon may have longevity on Gilt City, but this offspring of the beloved fashion deals site, Gilt Groupe, has quickly made its mark on the Windy City. Celebrating its one-year anniversary this September, the site has upped the daily-deals ante with its special offers and deep discounts for the city’s best restaurants, shows, salons and stores. Hosting fan-crazed warehouse sales and fabulous soirees throughout Chicago to boot, Gilt City is here to stay. Fine by us. We’re Gilt-y as charged: We officially love Gilt City.

Gilt City Chicago
giltcity.com/chicago

Audience choice:
Groupon
groupon.com

 

Best of Chicago 2011

Best thing about the Groupon craze

Audience Choice, Goods & Services No Comments »

A boost to Chicago entrepreneurship

There was a small nod to Chicago smarts when Nate Silver turned his knack for baseball stats into the brilliant distillation of political polling that was fivethirtyeight.com, since absorbed by the New York Times. Nice, Nate! But on a much richer scale is December’s almost-purchase of made-in-Chicago bargain site Groupon for a non-discount $6 billion, which the locals spurned because they thought they could do better. Thirty-year-old Andrew Mason—whose ambitions to create a site, The Point, that aided collective action mutated into Groupon, with its 3,100 employees, 1,000 of them local—could be the smiling poster boy of a new Lake Silicon called Chicago. We could use the Jobs.

Audience choice:

Cheap stuff, Jobs, Nothing (TIE)

Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird:

“I could live on them!”

“It has heralded the phrase ‘Gettin’ My Group-on’”

Best way to end Chicago’s budget woes

Audience Choice, Category, City Life No Comments »

Economic development
Here’s our situation in a nutshell. The cost of running the city has been greater than the money coming in for a while, and it’s been getting worse each year. The city is prevented by law from running a deficit, which is how the federal government addresses this problem. So the city gets around the law with a couple of tricks: one, it tweaks the system to allow it to put less money into the pension system for city workers than the system needs to fund the obligations it is incurring for current workers and, two, the city finds ways to convert a stream of future revenues from a particular source, say parking meters, into a lump-sum payment today, which can then be applied to the budget shortfall. Both are short-term fixes that create long-term problems. The under-funded pension fiasco is already coming home to roost; privatization is limited by what resources you can find a market for. Privatization is also a particularly dangerous fix during times of operating deficits, since it offers an “easy” Band-Aid but means that future revenue streams are gone: if the money is spent, as it has been in recent cases, future budget shortfalls will be exacerbated for years to come. (Privatization is not inherently bad and can offer a mechanism for monetizing underpriced assets, like parking, where political will might not be strong enough for the city to simply realize the value itself through sharp price increases. But the money must be banked for the future, not spent now.) Cutting government budgets seems to be the political cause du jour at all levels of government, and years of stories about ghost payrolls, nepotism and other poor uses of city funds makes it seem especially apropos locally. And we agree that budgets should be brought in line with revenues through cuts, but only as a gradual, future process, not all at once. The all-at-once approach would do more damage than good, since the great majority of city costs are payroll. Cutting jobs, or reducing pay in this economy, will only add to our economic woes. Likewise raising taxes on mostly middle-class workers. Needless to say, we’re in a real fix. The holy grail is to increase tax revenues without tax increases, and the only way to do that is through economic development, to bring jobs and companies into Chicago. Not necessarily Fortune 500 types; they require so many concessions and are often so quick to outsource jobs to other countries that the return on our investment is risky. No, we need to cultivate small-business development, with the hope that creating a fertile environment for innovation will yield another Groupon or two, as well as hundreds of mini-Groupons. Sadly, this cannot be done overnight, but it needs to start right now. And meanwhile, perhaps, we can explore a legislative change to allow the city to operate at a deficit for a certain number of years, rather than forcing it to make deals with the devil to get by.

Audience choice:
Legalize and tax marijuana
Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird:
“Tax the rich, sell everything, stop privatizing”; “Sell naming rights to El lines. I suggest the Apple Red Line, the Southwest Orange Line, the United Blue Line (assuming it doesn’t go Chapter 11), the Victoria’s Secret Pink Line, the Mello Yellow Line, the UPS Brown Line.”; “Departure tax when Oprah packs up and leaves for California”; “Fire all Daley’s nephews.”; “Stop wasting money on stupid things like those inflatable bouncy germ factories that the city has for certain residents.”

Best of Chicago 2010

Best way to save money and still have fun

Goods & Services No Comments »

Groupon

The world’s still in a recession, but with deals abounding everywhere, who cares? The Point started Groupon late last year to present Chicagoans and other cities with “unbeatable prices through the power of group buying.” Every day, Groupon sends out an email to subscribers offering deals including eighty-seven-percent-off dental exams, discounts on sporting events, hot dogs, mani-pedis and even skydiving. A certain number of people have to purchase the daily deal in order for everyone to get it, but after twenty-four hours, the deal becomes extinct.

Groupon.com/chicago

Best of Chicago 2009