“Just Kidding — I Was Fired Today.”
If you’ve been a member of the working class for any significant amount of time, it’s likely you’ve been canned, fired, let go or just plain shoved out the door. If the situation was bad enough (and it probably was if you were given the proverbial pink slip), you probably had a few choice words for your coworkers and management team; something along the lines of “I’ll see you all in hell!”
Andrew Mason, now former CEO of Groupon, was recently afforded that opportunity, and while he opted to leave his bridges intact, he did set the bar pretty high for all others who may be asked to step down from their positions.
“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.”
This is just the beginning of his letter, and it more than sets the tone for the rest of his parting words. Mason not only mentions spending his time looking for a “a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40,” (which I can only assume is the weight put on dining out for every meal via Groupon coupons) he also references the once popular Nintendo video game franchise “Battletoads.”
(We get it, startups. You’re children of the 90s. Stop referencing the video games of your youth and lamenting your lost Giga Pets. We get it already.)
Though he left amicably enough, there was little question that firing him was the right thing to do.
Once voted one of the “Most Innovative Companies” by Fast Company, Groupon started off as another startup success story. Mason — a Midwestern kid with a musk degree and little to no business experience — had once been seen as the Savior of Small Business. His company gave Ma and Pop shops hope that customers were still interested in their services, so long as the prices were right. When the company went public in late 2011, Groupon had raised $700 million, the largest IPO of an American Internet company since Google, at the time. Facebook would best them a year later.
In the nearly 16 months since their huge IPO, shares of Groupon stock have plummeted, dropping as much as 80 percent this year alone.
Analysts and business professors are now chalking up the entire story to a case of a company simply outgrowing the capabilities of their founding CEO.
“It’s an oft-told, oft-expected story that the genius entrepreneur steps aside when he or she succeeds at building a company big enough to need an experienced CEO,” said Erik Gordon, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, speaking to Bloomberg.
“The Google guys did it, and the results were spectacular.”
Mason blames himself for the decline of his company, saying, “I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers.”
“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,” wrote Mason, closing out his letter to his former employees.
It may not be the same glorious “eft off” we all dream of, but perhaps we can think of his departure as the kinder version of former JetBlue attendant Steven Slater’ departure.
Image Credit: Photos.com