Groupon's Andrew Mason Explains Why He Is Coy on Google Acquisition–He Doesn't Kiss and Tell

Groupon’s Andrew Mason opened up today for the first time to BoomTown’s Kara Swisher at the DLD conference in Munich, Germany, on why he refuses to talk about rejecting Google’s $6 billion takeover offer (while also managing not to confirm that one ever existed).

After a few painful non-answers to placate the crowd, he announced unexpectedly: “I’d like to explain why I’m not answering the questions.”

Mason said he’s been there himself, and it’s not easy. “When you are in the room doing negotiations, we don’t know anything. This could be a total disaster–do we love each other, or not? It’s personal between the companies…and then everyone wants you to do it in the open, even though we are figuring things out. It’s not respectful for the people involved to talk about it.”

Swisher: “So, what you are telling me is you don’t kiss and tell?”

Mason: “Yeah.”

However, Mason was willing to gab about the meetings he’s had with bankers to discuss taking the company public. “We are talking to bankers, and we are learning, and we don’t know what we are going to do. We haven’t made a decision…It’s something many companies eventually do, so it’s reasonable for it to be on the table.”

Mason argues that while the details of acquisitions and IPOs appear so juicy for the business community, in reality “they are so uninteresting,” especially compared to what Groupon could be in five years.

He was willing to theorize about that, too, explaining that he wanted to be the same thing for local that Amazon has become for products. “There’s an opportunity for offline transactions to be online. It won’t be easy, but I want to become a company where my kids won’t imagine a world without.”

Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley, who was on the stage at the same time, chimed in on why he turned down buyout offers from companies like Yahoo and Facebook. “There’s so many things we haven’t done yet, and so many opportunities for the products we are building and the data set we are gathering….We are 10 percent of where the roadmap ends.”

At one point, the two celebrated their successes in local with the “geekiest high-five ever.”

Crowley, who said Foursquare raised $20 million in venture capital after turning down the buyout offers, said it’s a gamble. “The investors have been completely supportive. They want us to shoot the moon. Someone told me that when the  [negotiations were] going down, every day you’ll think about it, which is true. We rolled the dice.”


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work