Andrew Mason, the founder and former CEO of Groupon who was unceremoniously dumped by the company’s board amid financial disaster, will go down in the annals as one of the most gracious people ever told to pack his office.
The fired CEO shot off a letter to his former employees, that starts with a pretty bleak joke, leads in to unfettered acceptance of fault for the group discount company’s downward spiral, references an early nineties Nintendo game, and praises both the board and the company’s staff, before making a self-deprecating fat joke and issuing a sincere farewell.
The internet is buzzing about the founder of the one-time start-up’s unusual letter, and The Guardian’s technology blog was nice enough to provides the full text, which you can read below.
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.
Even if you haven’t found yourself on Team Groupon in the past — the company has been widely criticized for a business model that allegedly takes advantage of mom and pop businesses — it’s hard not to be on Team Mason after this very cool goodbye.