Pop Quiz: What’s the best way to describe a 4,700-pound chandelier? If you want to work at Groupon, your answer should be “More brilliant than a studious Christmas tree.” That’s an actual question the booming Internet company asks its prospective employees, reports the New York Times in an in-depth look at the inner workings of the start-up. The dot-com’s Chicago office is full of musicians, poets, actors, and other creative types who spend their days helping to differentiate the company's email marketing through funny, clever wording—a rarity on the Internet where, Times writer David Streitfeld notes, words are plentiful but “not much valued.”
Groupon hires are usually young, because it’s easier to teach the “Groupon Voice” than “unteach” other styles of writing. That voice is what attracts subscribers and what, the editor-in-chief says, will keep Groupon ahead of its hundreds of competitors. Copy for one of the site’s daily deals typically goes through an eight-step editorial process. One writer spent about 50 minutes on a recent horseback riding deal, deciding to open with: “Without horses, polo shirts would be branded with monkeys and Paul Revere would have been forced to ride on a Segway.” The editor changed it to: “Without horses, salt licks would only dissolve during torrential downpours or the warm tongue of a weary traveler.” Click to read how it ultimately turned out on the site.