Learn from Andrew Mason

How do you feel when you get fired from your job?

Obviously, not very great.

Especially when you’re a CEO of the organization you co-founded.

It requires a very different level of self-cognizance to think similar to Groupon’s former CEO Andrew Mason and write a letter to employees and copy it to the public, which is copied below in full.

(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.



Key takeaways from Andrew’s letter:

  1. He started a serious note with making fun of himself;
  2. He took the accountability of the results;
  3. He showed his trust in the concept of Groupon and expressed hope that under different leadership, it will thrive again;
  4. He showed how much he loves the Company that he co-created;
  5. He is hopeful about utilizing his experience into something more productive;
  6. He ended the letter with advice of wisdom – that is to have the courage to start with the customer.

Although Groupon management has taken away the responsibilities of CEO from Andrew, it seems to me that as a human being he hasn’t failed. He’s just seeing what is called the far side of success.

All the best to Groupon and Andrew both!