Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

In Another Onstage Interview, Groupon’s Andrew Mason Says Nothing (But Charmingly)

Today at a local mobile conference in San Francisco, Groupon CEO and co-founder Andrew Mason appeared for another onstage interview and was immediately asked about the various and sundry mishegas of late at the daily deals site.

And said, um, not much. It wasn’t exactly his fault — there is almost no plus to him saying much.

So Mason did not.

Not much about thinly sourced rumors of acquisition interest by Google.

Not much about the palpable tension and discussions between him and some board members about whether he should remain as Groupon’s top leader.

Not much about its lackluster stock, down more than 80 percent since its IPO just over a year ago.

Not much about its issues in Europe or about its growth prospects.

“What I have said about Groupon is everything I will say about it,” he said. “I am focused on looking forward.”


Actually, Mason, who is a very clever man, joked effectively, “Let’s not talk about mobile,” which was the actual focus of the Mobile-Loco conference he was appearing at.

Fair point, and he moved into explaining what Groupon was up to these days (more of the same, but more with the mobile).

About one-third of the Chicago-based company’s business is now done via mobile, by the way.

“Our mobile customers have been our best customers,” he noted, making the point that smartphones appeal to a more cutting edge consumer and also merchants.

“I think they are willing to use technology when the value proposition is clear to them,” Mason said about retailers, one of whom he worked at recently. “They do it because it is important to them.”

Mason also talked about local, payments and other generalities about the social daily deals business.

All of which he answered with a level of nice confidence that belies troubles that the novice CEO is trying to overcome. It’s a tough task for anyone, of course, and not one that many would be able to handle with as much equanimity as Mason does in public. So, on one level, you have to hand it to Mason for putting himself out there so much at a difficult time and chatting away.

But not about what the audience wanted to hear about. Which is to say: What’s really next?

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald