Groupon CEO’s funny farewell is a model of candor

Andrew Mason, former Groupon CEO

Say what you will about Andrew Mason’s reign as CEO of Groupon, he sure knows how to say goodbye.

Mason was let go as the top executive of the daily deals company today, and he made his farewell memo public. In a world where many top executives obfuscate their departures with all manner of B.S., it’s a great read, and refreshing to see.

The memo is proving popular enough that it’s crashing the site where Mason posted it, so here it is in its entirety.

(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)

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.

Love,

Andrew

  • guest

    Refreshing. But he should have sought Steve Ballmer’s advice earlier. Then instead of getting fired after just one year of “missteps and missed chances to turn around the company”, he could have survived a decade of that.

    • Brent

      Yup. When it comes to surviving as a failed CEO, Ballmer is the master.

    • mas

      mostly agree, but in the end, this is a testimonial of the board holding the CEO accountable, which is precisely what the MSFT board hasn’t done.

  • ChetCrunch

    This almost makes me want to start cannibalizing businesses again. Seriously though, this is great. Actually matches the voice of Groupon that we’ve all come to know over the past few years. Cheers Andrew Mason.

  • abide

    Dont know the guy at all, but that’s a heck of a letter and seems to be from a great guy. I’m sure there are folks whose company culture is drowning in eupahmisms and double-speak that would kill to work with someone that’s so refreshingly candid. And personally, I love someone that talks honestly about a flame out and keeps on going.

  • Bryan Mistele

    Very impressive. Given all that’s happened at Groupon, this certainly shows Andrew is a class act.

  • fivecard

    A farewell memo for the ages.

  • Guest

    Congratulations to Andrew on a successful exit! This letter is less a farewell than it is a resume for the next lucky company to land this whimsical wunderkind.

  • http://twitter.com/EmiliaYantraPR Emilia Palaveeva

    Who gets the cat?

  • guest

    If he truly felt the CEO is accountable, which I agree with, shouldn’t he have offered to resign earlier? I can’t imagine that firing the founder and CEO was the board’s first choice. It seems more likely that he resisted that and gave them no other option. I give him full points for being honest about being fired. But I question the sincerity of some of the rest.

    • http://twitter.com/TroyJMorris Troy Morris

      And would you have quit CEO of the company you founded? Just because he knows something now, doesn’t mean he knew it then. Learning something doesn’t make you a liar.

  • http://twitter.com/teamMBH Team myBestHelper

    Awesome letter, Andrew – this is real leadership in action – so short, eloquent and effective. Enjoy the time off and we look forwards to what your next adventure may be.

  • Guest

    Andrew, thank you for teaching young people everywhere…and even many senior ones…the definition of “You da Man!”
    Standing P20 Hugs! Mama Marlaine htp://parenting2pt0.org

  • http://twitter.com/MamaMarlaine Marlaine Cover

    Andrew, thank you for teaching young people everywhere…and even many senior ones…the definition of “You da Man!”
    Standing P20 Hugs! Mama Marlaine http://parenting2pt0.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/davidchristopherschick David Schick

    Way to bust out the Battletoads reference!