Fired Groupon CEO's "Just Kidding" Email

It's not every day that a terminated CEO writes "just kidding" in his final email to employees. Firedafter annoucing more disappointing quarterly results, Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason tweeted a link to the full email on Jottit himself, noting, "(This is for Groupon employees, but I'm posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)."


In the memo to employees, Mason explains how he feels leaving he company he started:

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.



A New York Times blog entry noted a "trend toward bluntness": 

"It was inevitable that this trend toward bluntness would arise in the tech world, where failure is seen above all as an opportunity for spiritual growth."

Discussion Starters:

  • What's your view of a CEO's posting internal bad-news messages online? Consider another recent examples: RealNetwork's layoff memo. What are the arguments for and against the decision?
  • Assess Mason's email to employees. If you worked for Groupon from the early days, how do you think you might react? How would you feel about continuing to work for the company?