Jason Del Rey

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Groupon Has More “Speed … Care … Focus” Under Lefkofsky, Ted Leonsis Says

That Groupon CEO search?

It never left the building.

In an interview just now, Groupon Chairman Ted Leonsis said that the company never hired a search firm to look for a CEO, instead choosing to remove the interim tag from Eric Lefkofsky’s title. Lefkofsky had been been running the company since Andrew Mason was fired.

eric_lefkofsky

“We did interview search firms and we started the process but we never got into the market,” he said. “It was just apparent to the board that Eric was the right guy. “The business was functioning with much more speed and diligence and care and focus and we thought we had the right man for the job.”

Both men said they also felt that the company could benefit from some stability.

Lefkofsky is a co-founder of Groupon, having helped fund the company. He has come under scrutiny in the past for taking hundreds of millions of dollars off the table when the company raised a giant $950 million round in early 2011. Now he’s leading the company.

“It became apparent to the board and me that we’re still in the midst of building the business,” he said. “It’s a moment in time when I think it helps quite a bit that I’ve been here from the beginning. … It’s a moment in time when I add value.”

One obvious question: Was this decision in part forced on the board by a lack of interest from qualified external candidates? Both men insisted that wasn’t the case.

“I’ve had a bunch of people reach out to me and talk about the CEO spot,” Lefkofsky said. “There are not that many large-scale e-commerce companies … there are a lot of very strong leaders out there that would love the opportunity.”

Lefkofsky said his focus is on continuing to transform the company into a marketplace for deals and discounted products and away from a reliance on email. Of the Groupon Goods business, Lefkofsky said the plan is for it to one day mirror the discounts and curated selection of a Costco, rather than sell the quantity of an Amazon or Walmart.

In after-hours trading, Groupon stock was up more than 17 percent on the news.


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