A Daily Deal Bubble?

I was watching Michael Lewis on Charlie Rose the other night talking about his new book and the European debt crisis. I was most interested when he was talking about Iceland and their recent currency bubble that led to the collapse of all three of the country’s commercial banks.  He was explaining that, at one point, it got so bad that 30 year old fishermen that had never had another job outside of fishing were literally walking off of boats and into banks to take jobs trading currencies.  

When do you know you have a bubble?  When you have fishermen trading currencies for your country’s largest banks.

This leads me to the question of local daily deals.  Is this industry experiencing a bubble?  Is there too much investment?  Is it setup to fail? 

It’s hard to tell.  But take a look at this short list of companies that have built daily deal programs for their customers in the last several months. 

  • BlueCross BlueShield Association
  • NBC
  • Time Warner Cable
  • 95.5 KLOS (a radio station in Southern California)
  • The Boston Globe
  • Car & Driver Magazine
  • Intuit
  • Target 

For many companies this isn’t a huge investment and there are some synergies between their core business and daily deals; as an example, radio stations can use their existing sales force to sell a local deal as an add-on product for their advertisers.

But when health insurance providers and cable television companies are entering the space, it begins to feel a bit like a fisherman working the currency desk.  

My bet is that a correction is coming to the deals space.  The only question is -- when should we head back to the boats?