Groupon Volunteers Travel to Nicaragua with Spark Ventures

This fall, Groupon’s Employee Volunteer Program teamed up with Spark Ventures to send six employees on an impact travel experience to Nicaragua. Employee volunteers were awarded the chance to travel with Spark as the winners of our annual Very Serious, Super-Competitive Employee Volunteer-a-thon.


Our week in Nicaragua was filled with good food, beautiful sunsets, and even better company of the children and staff at Las Tías. Las Tías is a secular, nonprofit organization operating in León, Nicaragua. Las Tías was started by 8 women merchants in 1989 to serve vulnerable children in their community through nutrition and educational programming. Through their 23 year history, Las Tías has served 850 adolescents and 1,060 children.

Each morning, we kicked off the day with a Spanish lesson and little history of the Nicaraguan culture that we would soon be immersed in. We spent the beginning of our adventure at the youth center of Las Tías where they serve up to 80 students, ages 6-13, at any given time. The Grouponers were draped in kids and had so much fun helping them  practice their colors and numbers in both Spanish and English. The girls loved braiding the female volunteers’ hair, and the boys kept the male volunteers busy (and sweaty) by climbing their shoulders to play “lando lando” (tag). After a couple fun-filled days with the students, we got to spend one of our last evenings with “the tías”, who run the organization, to share a homemade Nicaraguan feast and learn a little bit of the native dance to the beat of a Spanish-translated “I Will Survive.”

image1-5One employee, Kevin Tanko, said of the experience:

“My favorite part of the trip was working and playing with the children – practicing English with the kids and playing games with them was so powerful. It was quite eye opening to see the scale of the poverty in the country; and even though they don’t have much, the students were always happy to see us smiling, laughing and just being kids. We had the opportunity to visit a student’s home on Day 3; it was a surreal experience to see how the kids at Las Tías live day to day and the struggles that they face.  

It’s difficult to explain this kind of experience in words, but the takeaways of a trip like this are more of an emotion than anything. The level of poverty is nothing like I’ve ever seen before, and I’m so thankful for what I do have. It inspires me to do what I can to help improve people’s lives no matter where I go or where I’m at.”

After our time at Las Tías, we got down to business – Groupon travelers learned all about the incredible work that Spark Ventures is doing behind the scenes to develop sustainable business ventures, creating a stable source of revenue for the organization to support their work and expand their impact in the local community. Next summer Spark volunteers will be planting 85,000 cacao trees, plantains, and chilies to add to the existing 36 (soon to be 100) beehives already on the farm in northern Nicaragua. The revenue made from the investment in the farm will support the work of Las Tías to help vulnerable children reach their potential.

Aside from the volunteer component of the trip, we did get to have a little fun of our own! Grouponers spent the afternoons doing various activities such as: hiking up an active volcano, kayaking through the mangrove forests of Isla Juan Venado nature reserve, “volcano-boarding” down Cerro Negro, zip-lining on the crater of Mombacho, and a boat tour through the islands of Lake Nicaragua.

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Groupon is proud to help people and communities prosper by concocting a secret formula of employee do-goodery, responsible business practices, customer collaboration, and nonprofit investment where our employees live, work, and play.
Want to travel with Spark Ventures? Learn more about how to get involved with this great organization here!


Why We’ll Win in Local

After two weeks in the CEO chair, a couple of things are abundantly clear…

1) Groupon is a misunderstood company. We’re misunderstood by analysts. We’re misunderstood by media. We’re misunderstood by consumers — both those who haven’t visited our site in awhile and those who’ve never purchased from us. We haven’t done enough to tell our story over the past few years. And we haven’t always been humble about our hits and misses.

2) We are still paying the price for our past mistakes. Not just in the media and with Wall Street, but in the business, every day. We scaled too far, too fast and have had a rough ride. That’s not missed on us; these issues have too often diverted our attention from the kinds of things that a company at our stage should be figuring out.

As a result, and not surprisingly, a few myths have built up over the years. So let’s dispel a few, and then talk about what we’re doing differently moving forward.

MYTH: Groupon is an email daily deal company — This is the biggie. And it’s typically followed up with something along the lines of ‘deals are dead.’

Too many people still think of Groupon as “that daily deal email company.” The reality here is twofold: first, we’re a marketplace — and a big one — one with more than half a million deals in three different categories. Sure, email is still important, but more of our purchases come from on-site search than email, and more than half our purchases occur on mobile. There’s simply nowhere better on the Internet to find awesome local merchants, great products and amazing travel offers and experiences all in one place.

Second, the ‘deals are dead’ line of thinking is tired and not supported. Deals are core to who we are as a company, and we’re not running away from them–not by a long shot. Deals have helped us build the largest transactional platform of its kind in dozens of countries around the globe and a loved brand. We also know that there’s more to our marketplace than deals, including an increasing number of market rate and low discount offers, and new ways to save time as well as money. They’re just in their early stages and we want to move faster to bring them to customers so that they can see clearly the changes for themselves. We’re going to do that, and fast.

MYTH: No one can win in Local — There are a number of big companies — Amazon, Facebook, Google — who’ve tried and died in local. Local is a hard business. As the unquestioned leader at this point, we know that better than anyone. On more than one occasion, we’ve been overly enthusiastic about the potential impact of new products, and we’ve been wrong more than once with how critical it is for us to compete in certain areas. We shouldn’t run from those failures or apologize for them. None of them bet the future of the company. We are pioneering, we are growing, and we are the market leader, which means we know that not every test will come out beaming rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes we will fail, and sometimes we will win, and win big. Winning big is absolutely possible in local. It’s a massive space that remains largely underserved. Consumers and merchants ultimately want that to change, and that makes winning in local possible. We have sold nearly a billion Groupons life to date. Add to that our nearly 50 million active consumer and 1 million merchant customers to date and you have a lot of proof of the possibilities in local.

MYTH: Groupon isn’t growing/Groupon is going out of business — On one hand, this is just lazy. On the other, that this is misunderstood is largely on us. We’ve definitely grown: since going public, we’ve grown billings and revenue by over 90%; we’ve had seven consecutive quarters of double-digit billings growth in North America; we’ve doubled our customers over the past five years; we’ve increased the number of deals on our platform by 500x since we went public in 2011; etc.; etc. What we haven’t done is consistently meet the expectations we set. We’re not growing the way we believe we can grow given the size of the opportunity in local and the potential in our platform. Both of those are going to change. More on that in a bit.

MYTH: Groupon is bad for businesses — We don’t hear this much anymore, but it still comes up on occasion. Our #1 complaint from merchants these days? They want to sell more Groupons.

The vast majority of our deals (82% as of the last report) are breakeven or better on the deal itself (i.e., no overspend or cross-sell required). That is simply unheard of in high volume small business advertising and customer acquisition. But let’s be clear: we still have to improve here. Not every brand or business is comfortable with deep discounts. We want to give more merchants more opportunities to run on our platform at lower discounts and with market rate offerings. You can see some of those opportunities today with Groupon To Go–more are coming.

So that’s that. Let’s talk about why I think we have what it takes to win.

First is our team. It’s amazing and one of our biggest assets. I can’t think of another team with more experience in local and that’s thrived with so many people betting against it. I’m honored and humbled to be a part of this team.

Then it’s our customers. We’re approaching 50 million customers worldwide and have worked with more than a million merchants to date. We have a loved brand with over 80% awareness in North America, and net promoter and customer satisfaction scores in line with the world’s best brands.

Next is a strong underlying model with a simple value prop that works for both consumers and merchants. Our business has weathered everything from email headwinds to a full marketplace transition–all while maintaining healthy fundamentals and selling nearly a billion Groupons (and counting). Why? Because consumers love to save money and merchants love to acquire new customers.

Last, we have unprecedented experience in local, and what we believe is the right vision and strategy to make our goal of becoming the daily habit in local a reality.

This is a powerful combination of advantages that’s very, very hard to replicate. So what are we going to do with them?

Given these advantages and the opportunity in local, we believe we can and should grow much faster. To enable that growth at a larger scale, we are focusing on three major strategic changes.

First, we are dramatically shifting our marketing strategy in order to drive millions more new customers to our marketplace. Core focus and investment in new customers isn’t a nice-to-have for a business at our stage, it’s a requirement.

Second, we are further simplifying and streamlining our business, in particular our international segments. This means moving to more shared services for economies of scale, and it means better picking our battles–exiting or partnering in countries where we don’t believe we can win or where winning will require more time, technology and investment than we should manage. And, in some markets where we’re seeing results — Australia, France, Germany, Italy and UK, to name a few — it means increasing our investment to better capitalize on the opportunity.

Third, we are moving away from empty calories in Shopping. We will no longer emphasize the higher revenue but lower margin consumer electronics business that we believe isn’t required in order to grow a sustainable, healthy Shopping business with stronger margins.

These are admittedly major shifts in our strategy for a new CEO who has been in the job for what amounts to a handful of days. I’ve been here for over 4 years however, and as I said before, I don’t need the proverbial 100 days to know that these are the right decisions. We simply can’t expect to win if we’re not willing to double down on what’s working and walk away from what’s not. And why wait to do the right thing?

With all these changes, there are some very important things that are staying 100% the same: our mission to connect local commerce; and our vision to build the daily habit for local commerce, the marketplace where people discover and save on amazing things to eat, see, do and buy in their neighborhood.

The same core market realities that brought me here over 4 years ago still exist today: local businesses have an incredibly hard time standing out and getting people to give them a shot; consumers want to save money and discover new things to eat, see, do and buy in their neighborhood. What’s changed in the last 4 years is that Groupon now better addresses these two market realities than anyone. And we’re still just getting started.

A lot of people have told me that I’m taking over the reins of this company in a very dark time. Plenty have said that I’m nuts to take this on. Without question, no one is handing us the keys to local with a big red bow tied around them. And while I’m shaking things up, I assure you that I’m not crazy. So I don’t look at this as a dark time. I look at this as a time to make things happen, faster. It’s the time to realize our potential and make Groupon better for merchants, for consumers, for employees and for shareholders.

On that note, I believe strongly that a better Groupon matters. It matters because local matters; neighborhoods matter. Part of what makes neighborhoods special are the businesses that line their streets and create hubs, energy and connections for communities. Groupon gives those businesses tools to grow and thrive. When local businesses thrive, neighborhoods win. I don’t know about you, but I think that matters, a lot.

I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity to lead Groupon, and I’m looking forward to our next great chapter together.*

*This post contains forward looking statements. Groupon’s third quarter 2015 earnings materials, including a message on the use of forward looking statements, are available at under the heading “Investor Relations.”

One Playbook: The next chapter at Groupon

Two years ago, we started the ambitious process of unifying our global technology platforms, tools and processes. This One Playbook initiative was designed to help us replace years of technical debt and disparate operations with the products, tools and processes that drive our North American business. Our goal was to set the stage for Groupon’s next chapter–as a global company, with more leverage and efficiency in our core operations, and a stronger platform for growth.

It’s been a huge undertaking, and we still have work to do, but our Operations teams, Engineering teams and many, many others have made amazing progress. Simply put, we are a stronger, faster Groupon today because of this work.

We’re also now in a position to realize the efficiencies we’ve been working so hard to gain, to further improve the way we operate around the world and — most importantly — continue to channel more and more of our resources toward long-term growth. Practically, this means we’re taking some broad restructuring actions to better focus our resources and streamline our international operations.

Over the next several months we will eliminate approximately 1,100 positions, primarily in international Deal Factory and Customer Service. Our teams have done great work to streamline our operations in these and other areas, and our global capabilities and strong regional service centers allow us to do more with less while still providing the high level of service our customers expect and trust.

Alongside this process, we’ve also taken a close, honest look at where we do business. We saw that the investment required to bring our technology, tools and marketplace to every one of our 40+ countries isn’t commensurate with the return at this point. We believe that in order for our geographic footprint to be an even bigger advantage, we need to focus our energy and dollars on fewer countries. So, we decided to exit a number of countries where the required investment and market potential don’t align. You likely saw that we recently exited Greece and Turkey. We are also ceasing operations in Morocco, Panama, The Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Thailand and Uruguay.

Let’s be clear: these are tough actions to take, especially when we believe we’re stronger than ever. We’re doing all we can to make these transitions as easy as possible, but it’s not easy to lose some great members of the Groupon family. Yet just as our business has evolved from a largely hand-managed daily deal site to a true ecommerce technology platform, our operational model has to evolve. Evolution is hard, but it’s a necessary part of our journey. It’s also part of our DNA as a company and is one of the things that will help us realize our vision of creating the daily habit in local commerce.

Last, while this is a lot of change, here’s what’s not changing: Our mission to connect local commerce; our commitment to delivering great deals to our customers and real value to our merchants and our belief that Groupon is a unique and amazing place to work.

Thank you for your commitment and your partnership on this journey. We expect the next stage for Groupon will be our best.


Groupon for Veterans hosts a Career Day for Local Chicago Veterans


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Groupon’s veterans employee resource group recently hosted a career day targeted at men and women transitioning out of the military looking to fine tune their skills and find the next exciting professional opportunity.

We kicked off the day with a Lunch & Learn inviting veterans and employees to join us as we heard from entrepreneurs from Bunker Labs – an incubator to house veteran-owned technology companies – in a panel discussion. Panelists included:

  • Justin Walker – Director of Programs, Bunker Labs
  • Michael Hubbard – Mentor at Bunker Labs & President of the Chicago Veterans Leadership Council
  • Michael Keppen – Entrepreneur at Bunker Labs & Founder of Thrive Project for America

Version 2After a great chat with these inspiring folks, our group of veterans worked with Human Resources professionals from our Recruiting and Talent Development teams to participate in professional development workshops focusing on translating their work done in the military to a professional setting, resume building and LinkedIn, interview skills, and networking 101.

We wrapped up the fun-filled day with a Career Fair and Networking Event where veterans got the opportunity to mingle with Groupon employees and learn about the different department that make this company a well-oiled machine.

Groupon employee and Marine, Greg Jumes, mentioned,”Looking for a job sucked. You feel lost and unsure about your life; because up until your separation date, you have had everything laid out for you. I’m proud to be working for a company that is pro-active in the hiring of veterans and assisting them in professional development via workshops and events. I feel that I’m still able to serve my brothers and sisters in arms from a civilian position.”DSC_0268

Groupon for Veterans is proud to support and provide professional development opportunities for those who have served our country and are looking forward to hosting more events like this in the future!

Groupon is committed to hiring and cultivating a diverse talent pool to continue driving business results across engineering and the company at large. With continued growth and expansion, positioning ourselves for the future is more critical than ever. Groupon’s commitment to diversity spreads across the board. Diversity in people, perspectives, and tools creates an environment of innovation, development, and support that fuels our ability to best serve our customers.

The mission of Groupon for Veterans is to educate the community on Groupon’s core values and desire to give back to those that have served and continue to serve. Our goal is to draw on the professional skills associated with military service through active marketing and community engagement. Groupon for Veterans has an open membership which includes veterans, those currently on active duty, their families, and anyone who supports those who serve our country.

Groupon Seeks to Hire (but not really) Someone to do Nothing

Screen Shot 2015-06-25 at 7.34.33 AMThe job (that’s not really a job) offers $100,000

Groupon plans on hiring (but not really hiring) someone to do the easiest job in the world*. The job (that’s not actually a job) that we’ll hire for (not hire at all), requires this new employee (who is not employed by Groupon) to do nothing. Additionally that job (not a job) pays $100,000. Clear and simple.

“Wait, what?” said Vic Galon, Groupon’s Head of Workforce Leverage and Productivity.

Could that person be you? Yes, maybe or not at all. According to Human Resources (they have nothing to do with this) there’s a pretty simple entry method in place — like going to this landing page and then “purchasing a Groupon”** — that you’re probably already doing anyway. In fact, that’s exactly the way to enter. The application (rather, steps on buying Groupons) can be found HERE.

Go to the landing page. Buy a Groupon**. Get entered to win. Anticipate victory (or disappointment). We’re not really allowed to say, but this video should help illustrate where we’re going with this.

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End the Gift Gap: Sign the Petition


Groupon Launches Petition Calling for an End to the Deplorable 33% Disparity Between Father’s and Mother’s Day Gifts

In an effort to fix the corrupt and unfair system that devalues Dad, Groupon takes a firm, public stance for equal gifting. Period.

In honor of Father’s Day this coming Sunday, Groupon has launched a petition calling for an end to the 33 percent gift gap due to people spending less on Dad for Father’s Day than they do on Mom for Mother’s Day. According to the National Retail Federation, shoppers spend an average of $172.63 on Mother’s Day, while Dad only gets $115.572 for Father’s Day––a difference of $57.06 or 33 percent less.

“Father’s Day should never, ever be merely an afterthought, and that’s precisely why we’ve decided to take a stand, providing people with the resources they need to make this movement a reality” “Father’s Day should never, ever be merely an afterthought, and that’s precisely why we’ve decided to take a stand, providing people with the resources they need to make this movement a reality,” said John Referlockel, fairness-expert-in-residence, Groupon. “After all, Dad let you do what you wanted even when Mom said no, chased away your prom date and walked you down the aisle. He’s definitely worth an additional $60.”

In an effort to help eliminate the Dad and Mom gap, Groupon is offering a number of unbeatable gifts that will leave you with no excuse not to treat both parents equally.

Win an ASUS ZenFone 2

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 3.26.14 PMTired of yelling your texts to friends and family? We’ve got an easy solution: Win an ASUS ZenFone 2. Just visit our Facebook Page on May 19th and let us know who’s the first person you’d call if you won. Not feeling lucky enough to harness the universe’s power of chance? You can purchase the phone on our site right here.


Read the Official Rules:

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Can’t Make It Home for Mother’s Day?

Groupon Will Send the Perfect Child in Your Place for $25,000

Groupon has last-minute Mother’s Day gifting options for every mom, even if you’re celebrating from afar or you’ve simply forgotten to buy a present

Groupon recognizes that it’s difficult for everyone to make it home for Mother’s Day, thus missing out on the irreplaceable, unquantifiable time spent with Mom and the rest of the family. As a result, Groupon is offering the ultimate experience called ”A Mother’s Love is Priceless” where for just $25,000 a perfect child stand-in, who is really a twenty-six-year-old adult male, will travel to Mom and spend the day with her. Mr. Perfect, Johnny Cadillac, is a highly trained Groupon employee who will hang out with Mom and do all of the things that she has always lovingly nagged you to do such as eat five full servings of vegetables (at once), rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, wear pants and even be nice to your sister.

Johnny Cadillac, the perfect child, will do all of the things that she has always lovingly nagged you to do such as eat five full servings of vegetables (at once), rinse dishes before placing them in the dishwasher, wear pants and even be nice to your sister.

“While you can’t really put a price tag on hanging out with Mom on Mother’s Day, we think we’ve found the next best solution,” said Johnny Cadillac, Groupon Son. “I’m incredibly skilled at all of the things Mom has always asked you to do––even though you and I both know they’re for your own good.”

The entire ”A Mother’s Love is Priceless” stand-in experience includes:

  • One Groupon employee to fill in for you with your mom on Mother’s Day
  • 16 hours of enthusiastic obedience as your Groupon proxy dotes on your mother and completes common household chores
  • Airfare for your Groupon proxy to travel to your mother’s home (valid only in the continental U.S.)
  • A $5,000 shopping spree for Mom at her favorite local stores
  • A one-day stretch limo rental
  • House-cleaning services
  • A family photo
  • A catered, in-home family dinner for up to six people, including centerpieces, candelabras, linens and food

A short video clip of Johnny’s areas of expertise––complete with a mom testimonial––can be found here.

In addition to the ”A Mother’s Love is Priceless” experience, Groupon also has several free last-minute Mother’s Day gifting options, including:

  • Give Mom a Break with The Chore Wheel – This Mother’s Day, give Mom the break she deserves by leaving any and all labor or upkeep to whomever is close by and also not Mom. Groupon customers receive a two-part chore wheel with customizable chore fields and completely un-customizable fields for assigning a worker to each task. Some assembly is required, specifically by any person other than Mom.
  • One Official Timeout for Mom – When presented with a task, great or small, Mothers can just present their Official Timeout for a reprieve from all responsibilities. While a great item to use on Mother’s Day, the Official Timeout has no expiration date and can be reused any time Mom needs some me-time.
  • Outstanding Achievement in Human Creation Award – On a biological level, Mothers are the genesis and building blocks for all scientific discoveries. In the argument of “Which came first, the Mother or the scientist?” Moms are the clear answer. Recognize your Mother’s advancements in the fields of biology and human sciences with this totally real and really scientific prize. Nominees receive a voucher that doubles as a custom certificate heaping deserved praise on mothers for their breakthroughs in creating human life.
  • The Mom-A-Phone – Groupon’s new innovation, The Mom-A-Phone, helps Moms make sure their message is heard while cutting down on avoidable punishments for neglected chores. The conical amplification system fits comfortably in front of the mouth, turning up the volume on mothers’ voices so instructions can fight through tiny ears clogged by sound-dampening ossicles, ensuring that requests will never be missed again. Moms delight in being heard, and kids feel relief after finally having direction in their lives.

View the complete Groupon Mother’s Day Gift Shop, and have a happy Mother’s Day!

Arianna Huffington Talks to Groupon Employees About Redefining Success

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On Monday, April 13, Groupon had the honor of hosting Arianna Huffington — president and editor-in-chief of one of the fastest growing media companies in the world, one of Time Magazine’s 100 most Influential People and Forbes’ Most Powerful Women, 14-time author and Pulitzer Prize winner — for an inspirational View from the Top speaking event.

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Five hundred employees from Groupon’s Chicago HQ attended live and hundreds more tuned in across the globe to hear Arianna masterfully weave in witty personal and professional anecdotes, delivered in her distinctly charming Greek accent, as she discussed themes from her latest book, Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-being, Wisdom, and Wonder. The book suggests that while success is often based on money and power, the “third metric,” which includes well-being, wisdom, wonder and giving, has a profound affect on our work and personal lives.

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 Arianna offered ways to tend to this often under-appreciated metric that include getting 8 hours of sleep a night (gasp!), creating a “Thrive Tribe,” or group that supports prioritizing self care, and undergoing a “digital detox” so that you control your smartphone and inbox, not the other way around.

Screen Shot 2015-04-15 at 5.42.18 PM.pngNicole Janci, Senior Director GrouponLive and event moderator

Delivered to an auditorium brimming with ambitious, hard-working employees of arguably the fastest growing company in history — not to mention a technology company — Arianna’s message brought terrific insight into how to have a healthy career and personal life without sacrificing either. Check out the 2-minute video below to get a glimpse of the View from the Top event and hear reactions from Vice President of Human Resources, Nadia Rawlinson, and Senior Director of GrouponLive and event moderator, Nicole Janci.

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Planning team: Senior Director GrouponLive Nicole Janci, Vice President Human Resources Nadia Rawlinson, guest speaker Arianna Huffington, Talent Development Manager Cassandra Black,  Communications Manager Nicole Touma, Director Experiential Marketing Noelle Provencial, Talent Development Specialist Melissa Urban and (not pictured) Technical Recruiter Allison Didominick

The Future is Meow: Introducing Grøüber

The cat’s out of the bag and behind the wheel.grouber-car

feature-middleToday we proudly announce the debut of Grøüber––a revolutionary new car service with feline drivers that provides people with affordable transportation to their Groupon deals. Using cars with GPS-guided red lasers we signal the correct route to the four-legged kitty captain behind the wheel to make your trip as quick and efficient as possible. And when funds are running low, Grøüber riders save more than just a whisker of cash through fares that only decrease when demand surges.

“We’ve yet to see anyone successfully tackle the transportation-for-hire market, and launching our own service made purrfect sense for Groupon because we have tens of millions of customers looking to redeem deals without having to claw their way through traffic,” said Barnicus Stapleton, feline fleet commander and director of haulage and wellness, Groupon. “And best of all, you can be assured of a peaceful ride because everyone knows that cats have complete indifference towards people.”

How does it work?

  • Step 1: Request a car through the Grøüber mobile app after purchasing your Groupon deal.
  • Step 2: Enjoy a quiet, peaceful ride while your Chauffeur-y Friend stays relentlessly focused on the laser ahead, guiding you to your chosen deal destination.
  • Step 3: That’s it — just thank your adorable driver and be on your way! The trip and driver gratuity are automatically paid for via your Grøüber mobile app. (Additional Catnip tips are accepted only in Colorado and Washington at this time.)

Grøüber will eventually be available in every major U.S. market, and riders can visit to download the Grøüber mobile app.