Behind the Scenes With Groupon's Developers, Talent Scout

Groupon had 117 employees in 2009; three years later, that number is 13,000. CIO.com set out to discuss the state of software development at the dealmaker and find out how it is changing as the company scales to global products with a local presence.

By Matthew Heusser
Tue, October 02, 2012

CIO — When you drive into Chicago to visit Groupon corporate headquarters, you take exit 51A off the Dan Ryan Expressway and eventually turn on Chicago Drive. The office is just past The Chicago Tribune building, over the bridge and to the right.

It doesn't sound like a big deal until you realize what 600 W. Chicago Drive is—the former 2-million-square-foot Montgomery Ward Catalog House. The catalog house operated continuously from its construction in 1908 until Montgomery Ward's bankruptcy in 2001. As it turns out, the home of the 20th century's major market innovator may be home to the innovator of the 21st century.

Right now, 600 W. Chicago Drive is not "The Groupon building" per se. It is a sort of a virtual mall, with coffee shops and restaurants on the first floor and office space above. The company currently occupies space on floors three, six and seven and, most recently, took out the entire fourth floor.

600 W. Chicago Drive
(Top) A view of 600 W. Chicago Drive from the Chicago River. (Bottom) Snarf's, the ground-floor coffee shop.

Snarf's

I meet my hosts, Julie Mossler and Nicholas Halliwell, on the ground floor next to the coffee shop. They take me in elevator to the fourth floor. As we walk, Mossler explains that the data center and mobile groups are located in Palo Alto, while the traditional site engineering, programming, sales and corporate offices are at corporate headquarters.

Groupon has about 800 people in its software development ranks, with around 300 based in Chicagoland. "But that's a hard number to pin down," Mossler explains, "as we grow by an average of 150 people a week."

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