What we can learn from Groupon’s ‘fired’ CEO

Groupon Fires CEO

Groupon Fires CEOOk hands up who’s had a bad experience with Groupon?

I stopped subscribing to their emails about 18 months ago.

At first the whole idea (of getting cut price deals) seemed great, magical even, but after a while I got sick of having my inbox bombarded 4,000 times a day with half price offers for facials and, weirdly, falconry days.

Honestly some weeks I would be sent a falconry day offer on 4 separate occasions. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends are falcons, but really, 4 times in a single week?

I also got burnt a couple of times by the Groupon experience (this didn’t involve falcons).

For example I found that the ‘amazing’ dinner deals were less amazing when the only times available were obscure times of day, usually several light years into the future.

Sophie’s had some frustrating experiences on there as well. She’s booked haircuts via Groupon at a tempting discount… only to find she was then aggressively pushed to buy extra products throughout the session making for a pretty sour experience.

One stylist even had the cheek to say: “if you want to have your hair properly blow dryed you’ll have to pay £10 more”. This was on a deal sold as a ‘cut and blow dry treatment’! Nice customer service. Chances of return custom? Nil points.

Who’s got it wrong here: Groupon, the sellers, the customers?

Groupon need to better manage the volume of sales and have stricter guidelines for sellers. They also need to manage the expectations of buyers.

Things actually came to a head for Groupon UK in 2012 when the Office of Fair Trading found them breaching consumer protection rules. You can see the ruling as reported by the BBC here.

In a nutshell they had to agree that they would:

– Ensure advertised discounts are “accurate, honest and transparent”
– Ensure “terms and conditions are fair”
– Apply “the rules on refunds and cancellation rights”
– Conduct “an accurate, honest and realistic assessment that a trader can offer the goods and services in the quantity and the timeframe suggested.”

But Groupon aren’t the only ones at fault here. A lot of sellers need to wise up to the opportunity that exposure from an Internet giant like Groupon can provide. Rather than thinking of ways to claw back a profit from customers on a discounted deal they need to think of it as an incredible advertising and PR opportunity.

It’s a chance to showcase a business, not create bad press and disgruntled customers.

A friend of mine is currently booking a slot with Groupon to promote their business and from what I’ve heard so far the process has been promising: well managed and realistic.

Love em’ or hate ’em,  sites like Groupon offer an great opportunity for small businesses to get their name out there and attract new customers. If you’re signed up to the weekly Insider’s Edge email I’ll let you know what happens.

An inspiring lesson in humility from the CEO of Groupon, Andy Mason, who was fired last month

Everything about Groupon is whirlwind and last month Andy Mason the CEO of Groupon was ousted by the board. Here’s what he sent to his staff on his departure.

(This is a transcript of the email he sent to staff):


andrew mason
Andrew Mason, Former CEO of Groupon

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.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

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. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness don’t waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.




I think this is a great lesson for anyone starting or developing a business.

Don’t forget the customer, keep an eye on the details and don’t be afraid to own your mistakes – otherwise you’ll keep making them.

If Groupon can listen to their ex-CEO and learn from his mistakes and ability to reflect, I think they’ll be a company worth watching in the future.


One response to “What we can learn from Groupon’s ‘fired’ CEO”

  1. Thanks for sharing that letter from Andrew Mason – what a truly inspiring guy. Whoever is lucky enough to hire him is in for a real treat!

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