Groupon CEO Andrew Mason gets fired, writes hilarious ‘resignation’ letter

‘I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding — I was fired today.’

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason poses with his wife, pop musician Jenny Gillespie, outside the Nasdaq Market following his company's IPO in New York, November 4, 2011. (Brendan McDermid/Reuters)

The now former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is known for being a bit eccentric, and a letter he sent to staff after getting fired is certain to cement that reputation.

“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,” Mason wrote in a letter circulated to staff on Feb. 28.

Mason’s firing comes the day after yet another dismal quarterly result for Groupon. Shares in the company, which Mason founded, have lost nearly 80 per cent of their value since the firm went public on the Nasdaq in November 2011.

For shareholders, and maybe even for Mason himself, the only surprise about the firing was that Mason was allowed to remain as CEO for so long. Mason had already predicted his demise, to some extent. In November 2012 he mused about firing himself as CEO during a business conference in New York. “It would be more noteworthy if the board wasn’t discussing whether I’m the right guy for the job,” Mason said in November. “If I ever thought I wasn’t the right person for the job, I’d be the first person to fire myself.”

Shares in the company rallied after news of Mason’s departure, but the company will need a lot more than just a new CEO to recover. Copycat companies quickly sprang up to follow Groupon’s early success and a consumers began to tire of group-buy emails, which quickly resembled spam, points out Businessweek. “From the start, it was a great idea that proved all too easy to replicate.”

Here’s the memo, in full:

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.



Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.