Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason drinks during a break of the first day of the Allen and Company Sun Valley Conference in Sun Valley. Credit: Reuters/Anthony Bolante
Groupon Inc fired Andrew Mason as chief executive officer on Thursday, ousting a co-founder who captured headlines with his quirky style but failed to reverse a crumbling share price or stop a gradual erosion of its main daily deals business.
The leader in Internet daily deals launched a search for a new leader to turn the company around, the same day its stock slid 24% after a dismal quarterly results report.
In an unusually candid post-firing letter, Mason - known for his atypical sense of humour - confessed he was getting in the way of the company he co-founded just a few years ago, and had failed in his role as leader.
"After four and a half 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," Mason wrote in a memo addressed to the People of Groupon.
"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."
The company said in a statement that Mason was asked to step down.
Co-founder Eric Lefkofsky and board member Ted Leonsis will lead the company in the interim, until a permanent CEO is found.
The company plans to hire a recruiting firm for the CEO search, a spokesman said.
The Groupon board met on Thursday and decided to replace Mason. No Groupon board members will be considered as CEO candidates, according to a person familiar with the board's deliberations.
Newly hired chief operating officer Kal Raman - brought onboard to turn around global operations - is a possible candidate. However, the company is likely to favour an outside candidate who has e-commerce and global experience, said the person familiar with Groupon's strategic thinking.
Groupon declined to comment on CEO candidates.