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On February 28, 2013, Groupon announced that it had ousted CEO Andrew Mason.  

Groupon had faced another dismal showing in the fourth quarter of 2012; one more in a series of poor showings.

CEOs come and go, and when Mason and company failed to hit respectable numbers, it was no surprise that the rumors circulating about his departure came to fruition.  Yet, amidst the hype of a new skipper at the helm came something particularly refreshing from a man at the top—direct, candid, honest, accountability.

Upon departure, the now-unemployed CEO issued a company memo to all employees. The memo, posted below, emphasizes a point that many leaders have yet to embrace—that of personal accountability.

I’m particularly interested in what this will do to levels of employee engagement at Groupon.  While faced with challenging circumstances (let’s face it, for the past year Groupon has been circling the drain), in falling on his sword, Mason offers hope and direction.

Read on and let us know what you think about Mason’s company candor.

(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway.)

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.




Related Post: The Steve Jobs Paradox of Leadership

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Tracy Maylett
Tracy Maylett

Tracy is the Chief Executive Officer and President of DecisionWise, and is responsible for guiding the overall strategy of DecisionWise, as well as leading large-scale change efforts for clients throughout the globe. View Bio

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1 comment — View
  • One could certainly question whether this was done for self-promotion (to be looked on favorably by future suitors) or out of benevolence and accountability.

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