Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yes, That Is a Cat on the Head of a Soon-to-Be Public Company CEO. (And, of Course, It’s Groupon’s Andrew Mason.)

Do you think Zynga’s Mark Pincus would put a cat on his head for a national magazine shoot? Or LinkedIn’s Jeff Weiner? Or, perish the thought, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook?

But the wacky stylings of Groupon CEO and co-founder Andrew Mason seem to demand it.

Thus, straight-faced, he appears in a very long article, titled “Letter From Chicago: Groupon Therapy,” in this month’s Vanity Fair magazine with a very fat tabby cat clawing onto his noggin.

There’s also a shot of Mason in the equally kooky “Michael’s Room” at Groupon HQ and the expected plethora of ironic hipster anecdotes, such as the opening one about Mason almost giving a spotted pony to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on a visit.

According to the piece:

“He had originally planned to give the mayor a puppy, but decided that a pony would be even more memorable. ‘I mean, it’s such a heavy thing to gift someone,’ he said, laughing. ‘I thought it would be funny to give it to somebody as busy as the mayor.'”


Otherwise, it runs through all the whistlestops of the basic Groupon story — about its aggressively non-corporate nature, the pros and cons of using the social buying service, the insidious copycat competitors, the famously rejected $6 billion Google acquisition offer and, finally, the splashy upcoming IPO.

Also, as usual, the fretful worries about Groupon’s staying power, as evidenced by the Emma Stone-tastic cover tagline:

“Is Groupon This Year’s Facebook? (or Next Year’s Pets.com?)”

How about let’s be a little more creative and say neither.

Moving along, of course, plenty about the lovable Yogi Bear of a CEO, Mason, who apparently plays the accordion (who knew?), but who one close friend insisted was also highly disciplined and serious.

Of course he is, but not for lack of trying to seem not so much that way.

As he is quoted in Vanity Fair telling a group of new Groupon employees at an orientation session: “As we get bigger, instead of being like most companies, conforming and becoming more normal, we want to become weirder.”

With that cat on his head, this month at least: Mission accomplished, Andrew!

You can also check out more Mason funster times in this video of a very entertaining interview I did with him at the ninth D: All Things Digital conference recently:

(Photo credit: Martin Schoeller, exclusively for Vanity Fair.)

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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