Groupon’s founder Andrew Mason was dismissed as its CEO yesterday. The day after the company – once again – missed analysts’ expectations in regards to sales and profits.
Mason has built with Groupon an inspirational spart-up and a multi-million dollar company. At its peak Groupon was said to have rejected a $6 billion acquisition bid from Google.
Still, the last couple of years have been an edgy ride for the one-time shooting star Mason and his company. Attacked by many copycats and having suffered from various management mistakes of its own making, the company lost lots of its former appeal and growth momentum. In 2012 Mason was even named “Worst CEO of the Year” by Herb Greenberg of CNBC. Greenberg wrote, in part, “Mason’s goofball antics, which can come off more like a big kid than a company leader, almost make a mockery of corporate leadership – especially for a company with a market value of more than $3 billion. It would be excusable, even endearing, if the company were doing well but it’s not. Sales growth is through the floor…”.
After Groupon ousted Mason as CEO yesterday after the stock declined more than 80 percent from its November 2011 high, Mason left a great and mature note to his former employees and team members:
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves.
As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company – it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness – don’t waste the opportunity!
I will miss you terribly.
This is a remarkably mature and honest message for someone who often was referred to as a kid entrepeneur. Mason is not hiding behind any other dubious reasons nor behind someone else’s fault and mistakes. Something which is not normal any longer in today’s often selfish and egoistic business world.
This deserves respect!
Also respect to Mason for having invented a new business model and a company which has disrupted the industry and created lots of creative and stimulating momentum for many other companies, entrepreneurs, managers, and employees.
What do you think about Mason, Groupon, and his farewell note?
Andreas von der Heydt