Group buying sites
In the late '90s, group buying sites were just as common as they were in the Groupon era. This includes the most well-known, Letsbuyit.com, as well as Mercata, which scrapped its IPO plans in 2001 and shut down. Others include Mobshop.com, ActBig, Zwirl.com, and C-Tribe.com. AOL AOL 1.36% and Yahoo YHOO 1.42% had plans to launch their own group-buying sites, too. None of those companies survived the dotcom crash—except Actbig.com, apparently.
In 2009, Groupon revived the concept. One could argue that the daily deals category remains a novelty, as I recently did in this article. My colleague Dan Primack recently counter-argued that Groupon is still a $5 billion company, which is not to be dismissed.