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Google has big ambitions for local services, which include listings of businesses alongside its mapping service, although Google has had only modest success with the program after years of trying. The company has recently stepped up its efforts, promoting a prominent executive, Marissa Mayer, to oversee the local business in October and trying to buy Yelp, the local review site, last year.
Google fears the damage rivals could inflict if they acquired Groupon instead. Facebook, which has become a larger threat in recent years, could use Groupon to enhance its formidable position in social networking, Mr. Sullivan said. Meanwhile, Microsoft could use Groupon to erode Google’s dominance in search.
“What’s the price of not buying it?” Mr. Sullivan said.