Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Google Confirms That Groupon COO Will Be Google's Margo Georgiadis

Margo Georgiadis (pictured here), VP of Global Sales Operations at Google, will be COO of Groupon, Google confirmed.

She is currently located in Chicago, where the social buying site is headquartered.

A Google spokesman confirmed the move by Georgiadis, while Groupon–which specifically denied a query about her appointment that BoomTown made Tuesday–dithered.

In a statement, her boss, SVP and Chief Business Officer Nikesh Arora said:

“I’m grateful for all that Margo has done for our team over the past two years. We will miss her, but we’re also very excited that she’s joining a terrific company and a great partner for Google.”

Besides COO, I will officially bestow the title of “Chief Cat Wrangler” on Georgiadis, for the massive organizational job ahead for her at the notoriously chaotic start-up. (As evidenced by Google being the company confirming a major Groupon hire.)

Still, Groupon’s growth had been stunning. It now has thousands of employees and has already washed out one COO, former Yahoo exec Rob Solomon, whose departure was reported here.

It has also turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google, raised a badillion dollars in venture funding from tech’s top investors and also is prepping an IPO valuing the company at upwards of $15 billion.

Phew!

Georgiadis must bring calm to this perfect storm.

Because of her solid resume (see below) and quiet demeanor, I had included her in a list of candidates several weeks ago and had queried the social buying company about her specifically this week.

In fact, when I asked for a comment if Georgiadis was hired on Tuesday, a Groupon spokeswoman said: “This would be news to me. Nothing to announce yet.”

At the time, Google had the class to simply say “no comment.”

(Lesson learned!)

Crain’s Chicago Business’ John Pletz first posted on Georgiadis’ hiring earlier today.

In any case, Georgiadis is just the kind of candidate that Groupon has been looking for–a competent and experienced sales and operations exec who would not overshadow its quirky CEO and co-founder Andrew Mason.

As I wrote two weeks ago:

Lastly, and perhaps most important, the Groupon COO candidate is going to have to accept that the role will not be a CEO-in-waiting, either before or after its inevitable IPO in the next year.

While I have received several tips that co-founder and CEO Andrew Mason might not stay its principal exec, extensive checking with sources inside and outside the company indicate that such a move is highly unlikely.

“Andrew is beloved to the board, by investors and, most of all, by employees,” said one source. “He’s not going anywhere.”

Indeed, Mason has a close working relationship with co-founder Brad Keywell, as well as Groupon co-founder and Chairman Eric Lefkofsky.

In fact, despite other business interests, Lefkofsky has been very involved in all key decisions with Mason.

That job, presumably, would fall to the new COO, which Groupon should be hiring sooner rather than later.

“Groupon needs a world-class COO, who can manage hyper-growth, but also who knows that a No. 2 stays in the background while doing it,” said another source. “That’s a tall order.”

Groupon has looked at a number of top execs, most specificially at former DoubleClick and Google exec David Rosenblatt. Sources said the high-profile exec did not want to play second fiddle to Mason or move to Chicago.

That’s moot now. Here is Georgiadis’ bio at the Silicon Valley search giant, which shows why Groupon picked her:

Georgiadis is responsible for driving Google’s sales operations and strategies across regions, channels and products as well as leading the sales technology teams which enable the successful commercialization of Google’s products (e.g., AdWords, AdSense, display and mobile ads) with advertisers and publishers.

She also leads the company’s local and commerce businesses, working to extend services like Checkout, Google Places and commerce search to small and large businesses alike.

Before joining Google, Margo was a principal in Synetro Capital LLC, a private investment firm based in Chicago. She also spent five years as the executive vice president of card products and chief marketing officer of Discover Financial Services where she led a radical turnaround of business performance and revitalized its rewards leadership with award-winning new products, customer experience and marketing. Prior to Discover, Margo was a partner at McKinsey and Company for 15 years in London and Chicago. She was a leader in the firm’s marketing and retail practices, and also co-founded and led the customer acquisition and management and retail marketing practices.

She has a bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Harvard Business School.


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