Thursday, February 28, 2013

Groupon CEO: "I'm OK with having failed at this part of the journey"

This is how you depart gracefully from a company.

Groupon founder Andrew Mason had just been fired from the innovative online marketing company, which  faces a rocky road (despite outlasting most of its copycat clones).  Here is the gracious letter he sent to reassure and inspire the troops he leaves behind. 

(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.


Here's what Forbes had to say about Mason's departure: "Mason left Groupon with the most powerful email marketing engine in the world, a growing income statement and a balance sheet with $1.2 billion in cash.  The music major from Northwestern has been sprinting since 2007; now is probably a good time to rest."

" I will miss you terribly." How many CEOs have ever said that?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Win $10,000! Get feedback on your business!

What could you do with an extra $10,000?

My column in the National Post this week looked at the New Brunswick entrepreneur who won 10Gs in a contest conducted by payroll giant ADP Canada. Amy Lapointe, founder of Amy’s Quality Care/Home Care, submitted a short essay on her business and how she would use the money as “payroll capital” to hire more homecare workers. Her windfall is good news for many people in New Brunswick’s economically depressed North Shore.

Excerpt: ‘Lapointe’s story is a touching slice of modern Canadiana — a success story carved out of an unforgiving landscape… From a staff of three last March, the company now has 25 employees and is looking for more. Lapointe is especially proud of the impact she’s having on her region. “This is 25 people in this area that might have had to go out West to find work. Now they can stay in their own community, and help their clients stay in their own homes.”’

Click here for the full story.

You can enter ADP's $10,000 contest until March 31st. For details:

Ever thought of hiring a business coach? In last week’s column, Oakville entrepreneur Kathrine Brown (AKA “Coach Kath”) sought feedback on her struggling weight-loss business from a local business advisory group. She got less insightful advice than she’d hoped for – but gained a new self-awareness that’s already paying dividends.
Except: “I interviewed Brown six weeks later for her thoughts on the consultation. She says she knew an “information marketing” business might be hard for more conventional executives to understand, but she appreciated the advisors’ questions, comments and concern. And she took responsibility for the information disconnect. “The quality of the experience you get from advisors depends on the information you give them. I came out of that meeting realizing I have to change the way I show up.”

How might you benefit from a coaching session with other experienced business people? How could you possibly lose?