Beleaguered Groupon CEO says would fire himself if needed

Wed Nov 28, 2012 3:20pm EST
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By Liana B. Baker

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Groupon Inc (GRPN.O: Quote) Chief Executive Andrew Mason, under fire for a plunging share price and tapering growth, declared on Wednesday he would fire himself if he ever thought he was the wrong man for the job.

Mason, whose performance at the helm will come under scrutiny from his board of directors during a regular board meeting Thursday, said it would be "weird" if they did not. But he said he believed the board was comfortable with his strategy.

Shares in the company, once touted as innovating local business advertising through the marketing of Internet discounts on everything from spa treatments to dining, surged 8 percent to $4.25 in the afternoon.

"It would be more noteworthy if the board wasn't discussing whether I'm the right guy for the job," Mason said in an interview from a Business Insider conference in New York. "If I ever thought I wasn't the right guy for the job, I'd be the first person to fire myself."

"As the founder and creator of Groupon, as a large shareholder..., I care far more about the success of the business than I do about my role as CEO," he said.

Groupon has shed four-fifths of its value since its public trading debut as an investor favorite during last year's consumer dotcom IPO boom, and Mason himself has presided over a string of high-profile executive departures.

Wall Street has grown uneasy about the viability of its business as fever for daily deals has cooled among consumers and merchants, hurting its growth rate.

In the interview broadcast from the conference, the outspoken and sometimes-zany co-founder argued his company was going through a period of volatility but believed it was on the right path. Groupon's efforts to reduce its reliance on plain vanilla deals include bumping up its "Goods" retail business, increasing the selection of "persistent" or long-running deals, and allowing users to search for such deals on demand.   Continued...

Groupon Chief Executive Andrew Mason poses with his newly married wife, pop musician Jenny Gillespie, outside the Nasdaq Market following his company's IPO in New York November 4, 2011. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid