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We’d all be better off if CEOs were this honest all the time

The farewell message from Groupon CEO Andrew Mason:

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

The biggest advice I have for Groupon: Their customers aren’t the email subscribers. Their customers are the merchants who make the offers, and those folks aren’t happy. How can you make sure the merchants love the model?

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Comments

  1. TV James March 29, 2013 at 9:40 am #

    I think they have to say their customers are *both* the business and the individual purchaser, because they need both to be happy in order to be successful. To be sure, they’re selling you and me a product they don’t themselves possess, so, yes, they need the businesses in order to have something to sell, but just as much, they need you and me to find value in the offerings if we’re going to remain subscribed.

    Failing to embrace the “or” might have been a problem. Failing to put it into the context of needs might have also been the problem. Just because 17 nail salons in town all want to do groupons doesn’t mean that I am interested in hearing about any of them.

    Exclusivity, fear of missing out, follow-up (in the way of stories after the fact showing a happy customer and a pleased business) are all missing or poorly constructed elements today. (In that if the deal isn’t relevant and it’s open to 1,000,000 people and you can use the coupon any time, that’s not exclusive.)

  2. rick boretsky March 31, 2013 at 9:21 am #

    Honesty?? Do you think he has been honest with the public? Honest to his board? Honest to his employees? He has a way with words for sure, but honesty is NOT something I would label this guy or this email.

    But your last point is definitely bang on. Without the merchants they has nothing, from the stories been told, they have been treated unfairly, unkindly, and untruthfully

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