Andrew Mason, the Groupon CEO, was fired yesterday.
That’s a biggie – but not shocking in light of Groupon’s downward spiral and a bunch of controversies around the business model and IPO.
But every cloud has a silver lining – and in this case, Andrew’s very public, candid letter addressed to all employees at Groupon provided not only a peek into what changes might be afoot there (“have the courage to start with the customer”) but also raises a couple of great points.
“I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey”
Yes – failure is very much part of an entrepreneur’s journey, and there is absolutely no shame in it. We salute Andrew for embracing this publicly. Different skills, mindsets and thus people take organizations and businesses through their various phases, and just because you did great leading one phase of the business does not automatically qualify you for the others.
Aside, did you know that Groupon was started as a WordPress blog?
“My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers.”
Data is very very important. But, as we’ve said in the past, don’t let it completely ride your intuition. Those “gut feel” decisions do have a lot going on in the backend and you have to back yourself – many great ideas have been borne of such decisions. And especially when there is no, or not enough data, not making a judgement call is just not – well – entrepreneurial.
Here’s the letter in full (source: web)
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.
We all owe Andrew one for this letter. All the best with whatever you do next, dude!