And so it begins.
Google’s foray into the potentially lucrative world of hyperlocal Groupon-like deals was announced at the D9 conference yesterday. Google Chairman Eric Schmidt was joined by VP of Commerce Stephanie Tilenius to unveil the beta roll out of ‘Google Offers’ starting in Portland, Oregon (with New York and San Francisco to join the ranks shortly).
“Portlanders know how to mix the urban (killer coffee, music and art) and the small-town (easy walking, biking and socializing). There’s no end to the city’s great restaurants, coffee shops, hot spots and places to explore,” writes Kyle Harrison, Product Manager for “Google Offers” in a blog post. “[W]e knew Portland was the ideal place to get it all kicked off.”
The first local business participating is Floyd’s Coffee, a small mom-and-pop chain with two locations throughout town. Portland’s unique market presents an ideal testing ground for Google before rolling out in other markets, as it’ll allow them to address problems with little fanfare – especially outside the tech-y spotlight of Silicon Valley or the critical eye of New York City.
Last year, Google reportedly offered $5.3 billion for Groupon, who surprisingly turned down the offer, while pre-IPO valuations have guesstimated the deals service to be worth up to $25 billion. However, some have speculated that the local deal craze is losing steam, with reports confirming that the company’s revenues have indeed fallen sharply in the past few months.
Earlier this morning, it was reported that Schmidt felt he missed the boat, in terms of social, during his stewardship as Google’s CEO, especially as Facebook continues to grow. Though late to the local deal phenomenon, it’ll be interesting to see if Google will be able to leverage its more powerful resources (Google Maps!) to possibly cut into Groupon and Living Social’s market share.
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