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Summary:

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason will be leaving the company he announced Thursday after a disastrous company earnings call on Wednesday.

Andrew Mason, CEO, Groupon

After a disastrous fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday that sent the stock plunging, Groupon announced Thursday that CEO Andrew Mason is no longer with the company. Groupon is currently searching for a replacement.

Back in August, Om wrote that the problem with Groupon was that it was highly valued by investors who were hoping to get in on the big deals of the social web around the time of the company’s IPO, but that Groupon was never a technology company; even if it was valued like one. For the most part, it’s really more of an online coupon business, yet it enjoyed a whirlwind IPO and was reportedly once courted by Google to the tune of $6 billion.

Groupon’s statement:

“Groupon, the global leader in local commerce, today announced a leadership change in which Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis have been appointed to the newly created Office of the Chief Executive, effective immediately, replacing Andrew Mason. Lefkofsky and Leonsis will serve in this role on an interim basis. The Board has commenced a search for a new Chief Executive.”

Groupon went public in November 2011 at in initial $20 public offering, making it the biggest U.S. public web IPO at the time since Google. But Groupon’s stock price is down 77 percent since that IPO, as it has struggled to expand and as both customers and small businesses — the fuel for Groupon’s early rocket ship — have grown weary of the daily deals business.

GRPN Chart

GRPN data by YCharts

The company’s stock closed Thursday down 24 percent following that dreadful earnings announcement, but rose 3 percent after hours on news of Mason’s departure. He has been with the company since November 2008.

Mason wrote in a blog post why he will be exiting the company. The entirely of the post follows below:

(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)

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

This piece was updated continuously on Thursday as the story developed.

  1. Michael Sinsheimer Thursday, February 28, 2013

    Good memo – inherently flawed business model with extremely high overhead that is tried to pass on to merchants in the form of high transaction fees that leads to churn and higher marketing investment which leads to profit squeeze. We saw this and created what we think is a win-win user driven commerce platform in beta at Flash Purchase.

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  2. Take Back Local Thursday, February 28, 2013

    Although Andrew Mason created a global company, his Groupon has expired. Living social was just foreshadowing for Groupon. Groupon is going to remain a large company, but not up to market expectations. They just push sales on people and don’t even bother to provide any content to build loyalty. At Deal Current Network, we are seeing local media companies test and innovate on the offer space. Also local media companies can throw in TV, Radio, Print. Groupon and Living Social just have emails and will die a slow death.

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  3. Since 2006 almost no single Internet startup has made it. Something is wrong with this Internet startup ‘me-too’ frenzy. And also with criteria upon which VC’s choose where to invest in.

    Maybe VC’s should use exactly opposite criteria for investing. This is not a good message to new startups, should they trust all those ‘in the know’ ot should they trust their visions only.

    My personal opinion is that too many startups and VC’s are looking for the easy money. Enthusiasm and passion to make something useful are pretty low on their list.

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