Two For One: Groupon Replaces CEO Mason With Board Members

By Bill Chappell

February 28, 2013

Hear Laura Sydell's report for Morning Edition by clicking the audio link.

Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason has been fired as the daily-deal company's CEO, one day after Groupon posted financial results that showed it lost $67.4 million during 2012. Board chairmen Eric Lefkofsky and Ted Leonsis will jointly fill the CEO post on an interim basis.

Shares in Groupon sank by nearly 25 percent to $4.53 at the end of trading hours Thursday, as investors digested the news of another losing quarter and a financial outlook that predicted first-quarter 2013 revenue would fall short of analysts' estimates by tens of millions of dollars.

In a message to Groupon employees, Mason started off on a light note, but he soon acknowledged the troubles the company has endured, as it recorded consecutive quarters of multimillion-dollar losses:

"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."

Mason, well-known for his open and joking personality, later compared his tenure at the company to a charmed session of playing the video game Battletoads. And he asked for suggestions for "a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40" — a request he later said had met with sufficient responses, via his Twitter feed.

The daily coupon business, seen just years ago as a sector of expansion and fast-growing profits, has struggled recently, due to international volatility and a slide in popularity for daily discounts.

Last month, LivingSocial, a smaller rival to Groupon, announced that it lost $650 million in 2012. LivingSocial received a cash infusion of $110 million last week.

Groupon has also come under pressure from Google, which famously attempted to purchase the company for nearly $6 billion back in 2010.

Announcing the change, Lefkofsky said, "I want to thank Andrew for his leadership, his creativity and his deep loyalty to Groupon. As a founder, Andrew helped invent the daily deals space, leading Groupon to become one of the fastest growing companies in history."

Groupon's board says it will conduct a search for a new CEO.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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