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Groupon chief sacked, but jokes on himself

Struggling online deals pioneer Groupon has fired its quirky founder and CEO, Andrew Mason, amid worries that people are tiring of the restaurant, spa and Botox deals that Groupon built its business on.
Reuters | By HT Correspondent, San Francisco
UPDATED ON MAR 02, 2013 02:07 AM IST

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.

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