Groupon CEO Andrew Mason Stepping Down

"My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers."

Days after Groupon reported disappointing fourth quarter earnings, its CEO Andrew Mason announced he is stepping down. As he mentions in his letter to employees sent today, the once startup darling has faced a myriad of difficulties in the past few quarters and its stock has tumbled since its IPO. In November, Mason said he would be the first to fire himself if he didn't think he was fit to do the job. Apparently, that time has come.

Here, in full, is his letter to Groupon 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.


[Photo by Flickr user DemoConference]

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  • MedTech Catalyst

    It was a great memo to the GRPN employees, but we saw and still see GRPN as an inherently flawed model due to the fact that the model has too much overhead in it which results in high merchant transaction fees which leads to merchant churn and the necessity to add significantly more marketing investment which harms profit potential. Flash Purchase is a result of seeing these flaws and designing a user-driven deal platform that reduces overhead and associated merchant transaction fees so that consumers and merchants can participate in win-win commerce.

  • Stephen Philpott

    Why would anyone take their company public on a business model that doesn't have staying power? Zynga, Groupon, and others are starting to do a new version of Web 1.0 with Web 2.0; believe in the money rather than longevity of the product. The truth is, every business can evolve its products as well as its business model. We should not be bound by the decisions of the boomers to reach maximum exposure for maximum profit.

  • Eugene Salganik

    Nice letter from someone who seemed to care. Andrew, if you need a new venture, you will be welcomed with opened arms at FunderHut.

  • km2012

    Ha! Good luck with that. I guess you aren't too concerned with keeping or growing your money.