Business World

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Groupon slips again as board rows in behind founder Mason

Peter Flanagan New Technology Correspondent

Published 30/11/2012 | 05:00

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Andrew Mason, chief executive of Groupon, at the IPO launch on the Nasdaq market in New York on November 4, 2011

GROUPON'S board is aligned with chief executive Andrew Mason and has no plans to replace him, the daily deals provider said last night.

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Directors of the Chicago-based company were meeting and discussing whether to seek new leadership, a source with knowledge of the situation said.

"The board and management team are focused on the performance of the company, and they are all working together with heads down to achieve Groupon's objectives," a spokesman for Groupon said.

Groupon shares fell in late trading after the announcement which ended the speculation of Mason's imminent departure from the voucher website.

Mr Mason had been expected to step down last night at the company he founded and has led it since its inception. The 32-year-old had little or no business experience before setting up the company.

Groupon made its name by delivering daily "deals" to customers via email. If a minimum number of people signed up to a deal, then it was "on" and customers got their discount. If not, they got their money back.

While the company has proved popular, it has struggled to be profitable and has been beset by accounting issues since it went public last year.

The stock began trading at close to $20 (€15.40) but has fallen steadily since, touching $4.40 yesterday.

The company has also had issues with data protection. Earlier this year, it emerged that the data protection commissioner here had contacted the company after complaints by customers that Groupon continued to email deals to them even after they had "unsubscribed" from distribution lists.

Mr Mason had indicated he was willing to step aside if the board wanted him to go, even though he and his co-founders Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell held a controlling stake in the company through its dual-class share structure.

"It would be weird if the board wasn't discussing whether I'm the right guy to do the job, and it's their chief responsibility to ask that question," Mr Mason said at a conference on Wednesday.

Some analysts believed Groupon should have copied Google, which flourished after its co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin made way for a more seasoned executive in Eric Schmidt.

(Additional reporting by Bloomberg)

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