Groupon’s Andrew Mason demonstrates how to stonewall

By Sarah McBride in Palos Verdes

Once he got entrepreneurial, Groupon founder and CEO Andrew Mason had to change his stance on copycatting. What he once considered plagiarism – after a few years in the wild and woolly world of business – he now considers fair game. Sorta.

“They call it competition,” he told conference-goers at All Things Digital in Rancho Palos Verdes.

These days, “I’m used to it. I’m on board,” he said without enthusiasm, while the audience laughed. (Groupon’s online-deal competitors include Living Social.)

The music student-turned-Web entrepreneur also shot interviewer Kara Swisher a series of increasingly stoney looks as she probed insistently about a possible IPO for Groupon, before finally warning her off with the deadpan comment “awkward”.

Mason can afford to be cavalier about many things these days. A Web and consumer phenom, Groupon has the wherewithal to continue growing at a breakneck pace while fending off suitors — it reportedly told Google and its $6 billion takeover offer to shove off. The company is now rocketing toward what would be, when it finally comes to pass, one of the Internet world’s most-anticipated IPOs.

Rupert Murdoch shakes up empire….kinda

Rupert Murdoch didn’t open the D9 conference this year as he’s wont to do. So, his alter ego did.

Jane Lynch — the acerbic, sarcastic and domineering Cheerios coach of Fox’s “Glee” — stood in for the News Corp chieftain in a brief stand-up spiel for the 600 attendees at the tech industry conference.

The award-winning actress (and very-temporary acting CEO) declared News Corp’s fledgling The Daily will be shuttered because she’d “never heard of it”, announced an investigation into the backgrounds of the Glee cast, and boasted she’d convinced ultra-conservative TV host Glenn Back to stay on at Fox for one final gig as a dying patient on the highly-rated medical drama “House”.

D9 kicks off in style…LA style

If you can say one thing about those folks at AllThingsD, it’s that they really know how to throw a party. This year’s premier U.S. tech conference, at the swanky Terranea Resort in upscale Rancho Palos Verdes just an hour south of LA, brought out the Ferraris, CEOs and fancy gizmos in droves.

Such an event deserves a worthy schwag bag, and the folks at AllThingsD did not disappoint. This year’s trove of goodies for the 600 monied attendees included a brand-new HP Veer smartphone,   a “Pogoplug” personal cloud box (for backing up content and stuff), a Disney skull-shaped decanter meant to commemorate the release of the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean, a Lenovo wireless keyboard-and-mouse.

Last but not least — a “very special” D9-logo-emblazoned hoodie meant as a tribute to D8′s now-classic onstage interview with Mark Zuckerberg, during which Kara Swisher managed to get the clearly-perspiring Facebook chieftain to doff said item.