andrewmasonalbumAfter being ousted from Groupon and writing one of the most candid farewell letters ever, Andrew Mason decided to grow a beard and record an album.

The result is “Hardly Workin‘,” a soft-rock album and workplace manifesto that sounds about as good as that description implies. Lucky for you, I listened to it so you don’t have to. Here are my first impressions:

  • It seems odd to me that Mason says “You don’t need no MBA” in the opening track “Look no Further,” considering that Groupon’s stock price has risen considerably since his ouster. While “vivid life experiences” may have helped him create Groupon, they didn’t seem to help his business sense.
  • “My Door is Always Open” is an ode to office transparency, complete with young kids singing the part of potentially disenfranchised workers before being reminded by Mason of how important it is to share ideas. It seems a bit disrespectful to compare employees with children, though.
  • “Risin’ Above the Pack” sounds like exactly the sort of song a manager would want to play to his or her employees in order to motivate them. For precisely that reason, I’d wager that they’d all probably hate it.
  • Mason should have taken his own advice in “K.I.S.S.” and foregone the attempt at a country twang. My English major side appreciates the irony in a song about simplicity being made worse by its singer trying to be overly complex, but that still doesn’t make it better.
  • “Stretch” could have been made significantly better by Mason replacing the nearly three-and-a-half minute song with him chanting “push yourself when setting goals.”
  • “It’s up to us” really wants to be the great innovation anthem for the tech industry. It was up to Mason to make it actually work. He didn’t pull it off.

Overall, “Hardly Workin'” is a cheesy mess. I think the album’s greatest sin, more than any of the goofy lyrics (seriously, who actually uses “shareholder value” in a song?) or its overly self-congratulatory tone, is the poor engineering. Mason may have worked with Steve Albini prior to founding Groupon, but the vocals are often muddy or hidden behind instruments.

Since “Hardly Workin'” is so dominated by lyrically complex songs, the fact that the lyrics are buried half the time hurts whatever feeble attempt at a message Mason is trying to get across. And while the album claims to be insightful, the songs are big on platitudes and short on well-explained advice.

In the end, I think the success of “Hardly Workin'” may be in a different part of the self-help section: weight loss. Its corniness is enough to make me lose my appetite.

Previously on GeekWire: Groupon CEO’s funny farewell is a model of candor… Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen collaborates with Heart, Joe Walsh and other rock stars on new album

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  • Guest

    My friend David did this when he was made redundant from a paper supply firm some 10 years ago, spending his unlawful termination settlement money to record a rubbish cover of “If You Don’t Know Me By Now.” Didn’t even crack the top 100.

  • GlennKelman

    I haven’t listened to Andrew Mason’s album, which sounds dreadful, but I for one am tired of mocking him. He’s one of 20 people in the world to have founded an Internet company worth more than $5 billion. He is also a kind, soulful, decent human being.

    • daryn

      I agree Glenn. Also, the album is terrible :)

      As far as songs about business leadership principles, check out this free download of Chris Ballew singing about ownership:

    • Guest

      Glenn, will you still say that when Groupon goes under? Andrew Mason may well be a “kind, soulful, decent human being,” but Groupon is a house of cards with questionable ethics that will collapse eventually, causing many people to lose money. Meanwhile, Mason has already walked away with $30M — a pretty good payday for an unprofitable company.

      • GlennKelman

        How can you go under with $40M of quarterly operating income and $1.1 billion in cash? How can you comment on Andrew Mason’s character when you haven’t met him?

    • Geust

      Charles Ponzi was a “kind, soulful, decent human being” too. He was also pretty influential: more 50 years after his death, Groupon continues to keep Ponzi’s business model alive.

      • GlennKelman

        Could you explain to me how exactly Groupon is a Ponzi scheme? Most Ponzi schemes, once exposed, become worthless. But based on the trades of informed, sophisticated investors, Groupon is still worth billions. I once expressed concerns about Groupon myself ( but it isn’t in any sense of the word a Ponzi scheme. And Andrew Mason is one of the most honest entrepreneurs I’ve ever met.

    • Tony Wright

      +1… I worked with Andrew a bit in the VERY early days of Groupon and he is definitely a very decent human being, especially when compared to most high-flying CEOs. I’d work with him in a heartbeat. Aside: YCombinator brought him on as a part-time partner– and Paul Graham has a notorious lack of patience for bullshit and evildoers.

      Groupon, at worst, is an overvalued voucher company, which is a great/enduring business model (perhaps not with 75% savings and unlimited redemption times). I personally believe that the brand and reach they’ve created will endure. Certainly the folks at the helm played stock games to maximize the paper value of the company, but I don’t think that’s abnormal.

      Regarding the album, anyone who knows Andrew would assume that the album is a joke delivered in Andrews normal deadpan style.

  • M

    Andrew is too smart to have produced this album as anything but a joke. To some, it is hilarious in its cheesiness. To others, it’s plain weird. I personally fall in the latter category, but I appreciate how some people would get a kick out of the whole idea of Andrew Mason doing a rock album filled with career and business advice…I respect his lack of fear and willingness to go for the unconventional.

  • VL

    Have you heard of the KPMG Song?

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