Groupon Tries to Assuage Stockholder Fears

CEO: Stock woes "unfortunate side effect of our unprecedented growth"

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason wants you to know everything is O.K. At least that's what he told stockholders today in a four-page letter that reads more like a plea to stay than a bold vision for the future.

"The six months since our IPO have been rocky to say the least," he wrote. Indeed. Groupon's stock price has slid considerably since the IPO last year, falling from $20 a share to $10.55 a share today, and it would seem everyone is a little rattled.

Mason referred to this performance as "an unfortunate side effect of our unprecedented growth," and expressed confidence that the company's large scale would be cause for success in the coming months and years and not the daily deal site's undoing.

While there is no doubt that Groupon is still a dominant force in the still-new world of daily deals, the site, which eroded some trust last year with dubious accounting practices, seems to be placing a lot of eggs in a rather hypothetical basket and looking to leverage its large user base to make sure things don't get worse.

Mason wrote that Groupon is excited about mobile, noting that, "our average North American mobile customer, for example, spends well over 50 percent more than customers who have never purchased on a mobile device." They also believe a lot of users still haven't bought anything from the service. "In the United States alone, we have more than 10 million geo-located subscribers engaging with Groupon every month who have yet to make a purchase." That stat, coupled with high consumer satisfaction scores from a third-party research firm, give Groupon reason to believe the future is bright, despite the low stock performance.

Mason's pep-talk was enough to drive the stock up around 5 percent May 7 after it fell below $10 May 4, but Mason and company may need more than positive vibes to calm investor fears. The letter ends by laying out grand aspirations for the site as Groupon looks to "bridge the large but fragmented local commerce ecosystem" and tap into the underpenetrated parts of the consumer Web. It's an enormous goal, and perhaps a necessary one to restore Groupon to its former, hyped stature. Groupon has managed to disrupt commercial culture once. Who's to say they can't do it again?