Give Andrew Mason credit. He came in like a smart aleck, and that's the way he's going out.
Mason's resignation email to employees was published online. Its opening: "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."
As Mason alluded to in the more earnest part of his missive, investors haven't been happy with Groupon's numbers since the company went public 16 month ago. Yesterday, the Chicago-based firm missed forecasters' expectations again, and it seemed like just a matter of time before the Groupon's board of directors would call to dismiss Mason. Indeed, the development proved to be the straw breaking the proverbial camel's back for its founder in a series of unfortunate events that essentially began with Groupon's jokey Tibet ad that backfired during the 2011 Super Bowl.
Eric Lefkofsky, Groupon’s executive chairman, and Theodore Leonsis, its vice chairman, will run Groupon while the firm looks for Mason's replacement.
Since its 2008 debut, Mason helped Groupon ascend to the No. 1 position among daily deals providers—though lately that has seemed like a dubious distinction. In November 2012, chief competitor LivingSocial laid off 400 employees and has received intense scrutiny from industry watchers since.