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Ear to the Ground

A Refreshingly Honest Resignation Letter From a CEO

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Posted on Mar 1, 2013
TechCrunch (CC-BY)

Andrew Mason was, until recently, the CEO of Groupon, the fastest growing company of all time. Although Groupon’s more recent misfortune has taken Mason down with it, the former CEO leaves with a wicked sense of humor intact.

In his public letter of resignation, Mason begins by saying, “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 letter, which carries the header “(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway),” goes on to say “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.”

The Verge says Mason leaves with a negative reputation, but the tech blog argues the blame should rest at the feet of his co-founder, Eric Lefkofsky, whom The Verge describes as a dirty pool player.

The Verge:

[Andrew Mason’s] name will forever be associated with a company that flopped on the markets, fudged its financials and generated an unsual amount of lawsuits and hatred from investors, employees, consumers, merchants and the media.

And that’s too bad. Because Mason was played. He got a fraction of the benefits and the lion’s share of the blame when compared with his co-founder. As Crain’s Chicago Business points out, “Mr. Mason also has control over 20 percent of Groupon’s voting shares. Mr. Lefkofsky owns 20 percent of the stock but controls 28 percent of votes, thanks to a two-tiered stock structure. His longtime business partner, Brad Keywell, controls another 10 percent of the voting shares. Together, they easily trumped Mr. Mason.”

Mason was an ambitious young entrepreneur who got into bed with a man who’s run a very dirty game many times before. And once the rocket ship took flight, it was no doubt very difficult to get off before he was unceremoniously shown the door.

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—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.

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