Andrew Mason, the Groupon CEO, was let go this week due to continued poor performances for the company as well as a stock price that remains in the tank. How things change. One has to wonder, and obviously hind site is 20/20, how different things would be for Mason had he accepted the $6billion offer from Google. Rebuffing the search giant just stirred that hornet’s nest.
What is interesting to me is the following – Groupon never truly defined what they were. A technology company? A glorified email list? A social networking firm? A big coupon? Even Mason seemed to agree that they were not clear as to what they were. At the core, every company needs to understand what they are. Google is a search company, Amazon is eCommerce, ATT a communications player, GM a car company, Apple a consumer technology firm and so on. Define who you are and what you want to be when you grow up. Otherwise you are going to pull yourself in directions you do not and cannot afford to head in…A difficult discipline, no doubt, but one that has to be adhered to.
Of course it does not help that Groupon created and was competing in a space that had very low barriers to entry – creating by some accounts 500 copy cat companies. However that is not the only reason for where Groupon has fallen to.
Mason will join a long list of entrepreneur/CEOs who watched their idea start from nothing, rise to outrageous heights and then crash when expectations (or the public market) could not be satisfied.
Again easy to say now, but sometimes as Steve Miller would say – Go on take the money and run.