John Paczkowski

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Groupon CEO: “I Was Fired Today.”

mason_groupon_nasdaq Andrew Mason’s numbered days as CEO of Groupon have finally come to an end. Following another quarter of lousy earnings, the company said Thursday that Mason is stepping down, effective immediately. Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis have been tapped to run a newly created Office of the Chief Executive until Groupon finds a new CEO.

The announcement follows an ugly fourth-quarter earnings report, in which the company posted a GAAP loss of 12 cents per share — 10 cents more than Wall Street was looking for. Groupon’s stock, which tanked more than 20 percent after the company posted financials yesterday, is now up more than 10 percent on news of Mason’s ouster. (A nice bump. The company should consider firing Mason every day.)

The iffy nature of Mason’s status was apparent during yesterday’s earnings call, when company spokesman Paul Taaffe was asked whether the latest results would affect Mason’s role. His answer: “He’s here today.

In a message to Groupon employees, Mason announced the move, which has been rumored for months. “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,” Mason wrote. “Just kidding — I was fired today. If you’re wondering why … you haven’t been paying attention.” The full memo is below, and below that there’s video of Mason in happier times: Onstage at D9, refusing to answer questions about the IPO papers Groupon would file the next day.

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.

Love,

Andrew


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