The Great Debate UK
By Kathleen Brooks. The opinions expressed are her own.
Groupon’s ex-CEO won’t be remembered for his stewardship of the internet deal company, but he is likely to go down in history as writing one of the best and most honest goodbye memos of all time when he was sacked at the end of last week.
Two things in the memo to Groupon employees announcing his departure stand out: humour and honesty. This has to be the best opening line in the history of the departure letter: “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.” How many times have we heard CEOs, politicians and other leaders use the “family” card to disguise the fact they have been unceremoniously dumped from their role of authority?
Mason didn’t stop there. Rather than lash out at the decision to replace him he actually agrees with it. He told readers if his firing was a shock then they haven’t been paying attention. Indeed Groupon has been mired in troubles for the last two-and-a-half years; in the last 12 months the share price has fallen a whopping 75%, from nearly $20 per share to just below $5 today. One could argue that Mason should have left sooner, though we have seen other CEOs continue to stay on to the bitter end – think of Dick Fuld at Lehman Brothers or the rotten crew at Enron.
Mason listed the errors he was responsible for that undoubtedly hurt the company’s share price, from using controversial metrics to rate performance that stoked the ire of regulators, to missing growth expectations. Mason was clear: “As CEO, I am accountable,” he wrote.