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Groupon sues ex-employees who left for Google

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Groupon has filed suit against two former employees for allegedly taking the daily deals site’s trade secrets with them to their new jobs at Google. Bloomberg was the first to report on the news.

In a lawsuit filed in Cook County, Illinois last week, Groupon accuses two former employees — Michael Nolan and Brian Hanna — of taking information they learned at Groupon to their new sales jobs at Google Offers, Google’s daily deals site. Michael Nolan worked at Groupon for approximately 16 months, from May 2009 up to September 2011. Brian Hanna worked at Groupon for about nine months, from January 2011 to September 2011.

Both Nolan and Hanna are relative newcomers to the workforce: According to their respective LinkedIn profiles, Nolan graduated from DePaul University immediately prior to joining Groupon in 2009, and Hanna graduated from Michigan State in 2008.

It’s an interesting turn of events for Groupon, which was widely reported to have turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google less than a year ago, in December 2010. Since then, Groupon has come into its own as a standalone company that is moving toward a much-buzzed-about initial public offering on the stock market.

When contacted today, a Google spokesperson said: “We’re not party to the suit and have not seen a copy of the complaint, so we cannot comment.” We’ve reached out to Groupon’s press department and its general counsel for comment on the lawsuit, and have yet to hear back.


5 Responses to “Groupon sues ex-employees who left for Google”

    • Attila Steven C

      Look the bigger picture. Technology is changing at a rapid pace. Once in a while there will be an amazing cool new thing out on the market that will take the lead for 18-36 months (perhaps longer). Groupon is one of them.

      Google might take the lead, because of their massive userbase, however they are not offering anything different then Groupon. Eventually these group buying sites will slow down until a cool new “niche” enters the market.

      However look at this from a company standpoint. They make technology. They try to keep on top of technology. Ideas are flying around all the time. These ex employees could have over heard some of these ideas which can be transformed into a really cool “niche” that takes these group buying sites to the next level. They go to work for a direct competitor and shares what they learned or could have over head some ideas flying around. Google Offers people originally had no idea of such “ideas” and takes that idea to the next level.

      So can you see why Groupon is so protective of their technology and going after these ex-employees? Aside from the fact the ex-employees were probably under a non compete clause.

      For a lot of people, they are against the “man” (the company for profit) therefore they will never get why Groupon is suing these ex-employees.

      Though there is a saying, put yourself in their shoes.