Groupon accounting under scrutiny

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I hope it is not as I feared. According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, the SEC is taking a look at Groupon accounting claims. In an earlier posting, I raised the concern that Groupon creative accounting will trigger a backlash against real improvements in accounting for intangibles. My fear is that we all will get tarred with the same brush - to use an old, but apt, cliché. As the Journal story notes:

John Coffee, a professor at the law school at Columbia University, said the SEC has become more cautious about using nontraditional metrics after the dot-com bubble and subsequent bust. "The more we get into a bubble, the more we have analysts wanting to use numbers giving a sense of momentum," said Mr. Coffee. "In social media, there are signs of a bubble and that creates some nervousness at the commission."
Heightening that nervousness with possible bubble-feeding metrics is just what we don't need right now -- when we may be making real progress on accounting for intangibles.

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