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Groupon CEO Andrew Mason: 'I Was Fired'

By Chuck Sudo in News on Feb 28, 2013 10:30PM

Now-former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason (Photo credit: Johannes Simon/Getty images)
Groupon founder Andrew Mason is out as CEO of the daily deals pioneer, a day after a disastrous quarterly report where the company missed Wall Street projections, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. Mason was replaced by Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and board member Ted Leonsis.

Mason’s irreverent attitude helped build Groupon from a startup to a publicly traded company, but that same attitude rubbed investors and analysts the wrong way as the company’s fortunes took a nosedive shortly after its November 2011 IPO. Mason showed his characteristic jocularity in an email to company employees:

"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.



News of Mason’s departure, predictably, led to the company’s stock value jumping in late-day trading. Groupon’s stock dropped to $4.46 Wednesday after the company released its Q4 report, erasing most of the gains the stock had made in recent months.

Lefkofsky and Leonisis will remain in the newly named “Office of the Chief Executive” until a replacement is named.