Can Groupon Redeem Itself After Firing CEO?

Flash back two years ago and Groupon was on the tip of everyone’s tongues. Major companies began posting great deals on this flash-sale site, and it became an overnight sensation. However, since then Groupon’s business has rapidly declined hitting an all-time low on Feb 28 when the company decided to fire CEO and co-founder Andrew Mason.

With the news of the CEO’s sacking, many media outlets are bringing to light Groupon’s dismal financials, something of which many people were unaware. When Groupon first introduced its IPO in November 2011, shares sold for around $20 each. Less than one year later, in September 2012, shares sold for an average of $4, an embarrassing decline for a company that once signified “the future.”

While the company is hoping for a fresh start with a new CEO, this huge wave of negative press may have a long-term effect on its future. This situation has brought Groupon back into the public consciousness, and not in the light it would prefer.

Mason sent an internal memo to his employees regarding his dismissal as CEO. The memo has leaked onto the Internet and its snarky, (some say) immature tone has some questioning his ability to lead companies in the future. Here’s a quote:

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.

(The full memo can be read here.)

In the memo, Mason went on to address his personal failures leading the company and stresses that this is only the end of a chapter, and that he will continue to invest his energy into new businesses. While this situation is bad for Groupon, Mason has also certainly taken a huge hit to his personal brand.

With all of this negative press, Groupon’s PR team certainly has a major challenge ahead of them. It’s clear that Groupon’s traditional setup is not working anymore. Perhaps the new CEO can launch a full redesign that brings the buzz back to the company.

Do you still use Groupon? Does the company have what it takes to rebrand itself and return to the top? Does Andrew Mason have a future after this PR nightmare?

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4 Responses to Can Groupon Redeem Itself After Firing CEO?

  1. Alexa Chrisbacher says:

    It is unfortunate for Groupon that the company and its financials are being discussed negatively in the media, but it is also an opportunity.

    Andrew Mason’s immaturity shown in his memo acknowledging his dismissal may serve as a sign that Groupon made the right choice in replacing the former CEO.

    The company can now identify the difficulties affecting its future success and create a plan to improve the numbers and the spirits of shareholders.

    It seems like there is no better way for a company that is associated with “the future” to maintain that reputation than an adaptive campaign showing Groupon is not afraid to leave behind old models, update and respond to the changing marketplace.

  2. Nicole Lavella says:

    I’ve heard a lot about Groupon’s financial mishaps over the past few months, and didn’t see the CEO’s firing as a surprise. Apparently, he didn’t either. In fact, sources close to him said he “totally knew” the board was planning to replace him. I think it’s the right move if Groupon has any hope of attempting to rebrand itself.

    I actually first read about his resignation letter in The Washington Post, which deemed it “the best resignation letter ever.” (Here’s the link, if you want to check out the article:

    I agree. I don’t think this a PR nightmare at all, though I can see how the memo comes off as a bit pretentious, Mason noted his weaknesses, admitted his failure as a leader, and accepted the consequences of this failure gracefully. I loved it. I think people aren’t used to a CEO taking blame and being so straightforward/transparent about it.

    However, I wouldn’t necessarily praise Mason as being “candid” and “sacrificing his brand for the truth” either. It’s well known that many blame Groupon’s business model for its failure, pointing to how all “digital coupons” have fallen by the wayside as evidence. Thus, by appearing to be honest and taking the blame (even though most don’t place the entire blame on him), Mason actually builds his brand by appearing as a truthful and courageous CEO.

    Ironically brilliant, I guess. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the company’s future (and his) play out.

  3. Jessica Choi says:

    I do not use Groupon but a lot of my friends do. They share deals with me almost every week so I am familiar with the company. When I first heard that the CEO was fired, I was shocked. I hadn’t heard anything about the typical situations that cause a company to fire their head honcho. Reading about Groupon’s financial troubles and how Andrew Mason handled himself, I think there is a chance that Groupon can rebrand itself and return to the top. It will take a lot of work and dedication from their employees and a talented PR team. Groupon was described as the “future” and it met the needs of a niche population. Even with the CEO gone, my friends still use Groupon and its deals.

  4. Michelle Rivas says:

    This is a major problem for the company internally. As a culture, the company now shows little value for its employees if they are willing to fire the CEO and have him candidly speak to the entire employee base about it. The company will not improve unless they see a positive culture shift and internally communicate things to reassure the employees.

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