Groupon CEO Mason Steps Down

Andrew Mason has left the building. The embattled young founder of Groupon, a Chicago-based website offering daily deals discounts for its users, stepped down as CEO from the company that he helped to found.

Groupon, which grew into a billion dollar company within two years of its founding, became the pride of the Chicago startup community. In an excerpt of his speech, last Fall, at the 2012 Innovation Awards, Mason talks about Chicago’s role and support that allowed the startup to flourish.

Earlier today, Mason posted this farewell letter on his personal blog to his co-workers at Groupon:

(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

An excerpt from the memo by Eric Lefkofsky and vice-chairman Ted Leonsis on Mason’s departure:

Dear Groupon,

After more than five years of super-human service to Groupon, Andrew has been asked to step down.

Andrew’s achievements during his tenure are virtually unmatched in Internet history.  Not only did he help invent the daily deals space, but he also created one of the fastest growing companies in history.  But for all of us on the Board, maybe his greatest achievement is that in the face of extreme pressure and public scrutiny, he guided the company with grace and never lost sight of the things that matter most: our customers and merchants…

Read the full memo HERE in the Wall Street Journal. ❒

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