Following a week of rumors about a Groupon buyout, it seems now that Google could be buying the small company for $2.5 billion, according to internal sources. While neither company will comment on rumors, VatorNews quotes an internal source that confirmed the news to them. This would be a big deal for the small company since it could then use Google's intensive data on maps, locations and userbase, which could allow them to expand past the current select list of cities that they cover. Also, the acquisition makes sense for Google as they've been trying to grow Google Places, and compete with the likes of Facebook.
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Google is once again trying to show that location services are really important to them with the release of Google Hotpot, a social recommendation engine for Places. According to Google, this service will provide recommendations "powered by you and your friends" to businesses and locations you happen to be near. Right now, Google Places mostly provides information and facts about restaurants, clubs, banks, or anything you can find on a map, as well as imported ratings from outside sources like Yelp. Hotpot adds the ability to like or dislike a location on the spot, and provide your opinion. Then, the engine will present that additional information from your social circle. The new feature is available on Android phones now and on the web, and uses your Google account to allow you to rate businesses.
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