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Andrew Mason out at Groupon (groupon.com)
202 points by lleims on Feb 28, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 97 comments



This guy.

Travel back in time with me to October, 2010. Stanford. Startup School.

Andrew Mason has been talking, sharing the origin story of Groupon, the lessons learned about entrepreneurship, the pitfalls, the joys. He is fun and engaging. You wanna like him, you wanna see Groupon succeed.

We get to the part of the talk where questions are asked and answered. He answers some early softballs. Then one brave soul stood up with a real query that only Mason could answer.

Is Groupon a sustainable business, given what we'd been hearing from merchants online?

It was as if a mask had dropped. Where once there was cheer and energy, there was now a sullenness. The man seemed affronted at the notion that his business would be challenged in this way. Despite the fact the opportunity to ask just such a question was one of the great values of a venue of this sort. Despite the fact that Groupon's sustainability had been the elephant in the room the whole time. This was right after some of the first stories from distressed Groupon merchants had been trickling out.

Petulant, absent all of his previous ebullience, Mason asserted the business was sustainable, offered no supporting details, and demanded the next question.

A good leader has the intellectual honesty to recognize their missteps and explain them, along with the remedies explored. The expectation for that is even more acute when you've been elevated to the role of mentor.

It was in that moment, his phoniness laid bare, that I decided Groupon was likely melting puppies in its basement, Mason knew it, and didn't know how to reverse the operation.


Name me one CEO or founder that would go to "startup school", stand before a bunch of people, and answer that question with anything but "yes".

I'm taking it you're basing your opinions on the way he answered the question, not the answer itself, right?


100% correct.

The way I'd have answered it to match the tone of every other thing he'd said goes a little something like this:

"You know, it's a fair question. Obviously, I believe the answer is yes.

We're still learning a lot about how to scale this business and educate new partners. We could have done a better job in some cases, and I think that's what you're seeing when people are frustrated by us online.

We're working with our merchants to understand what they need to make sure everyone – both our customers and our merchants – gets a great deal."


So the problem isn't that you thought he was a hypocrite, it's that he didn't lie well enough to hide it. Isn't that hypocritical?


I didn't have a problem at all – Groupon did. And the dramatic fashion with which his mask dropped was the tipoff, that's all.


No, the problem was he didn't have or share a story, vision, idea, or plan on why he believed the business was sustainable.


What did danilocampos say that would have been a lie? The only thing that might come close is the statement "We're working with our merchants to understand what they need to make sure...". But I have difficulty believing that Groupon wasn't talking to any merchants at all about how to improve things.


I suspect it's the difference between, "yes," and "yes, because..."



the right answer to the question is something along the lines of:

"Yes, our company is not just sustainable but is set for a new period growth. Our team has worked hard to get a foothold in the market and our next iterations on our product are going to be twice as awesome. stay tuned."

which is also a bullshit dodge and a deflection, but its a way of doing it with grace and style, and even potentially allowing for the audience to believe they might be capable of fixing a broken business model with some innovation and hard work.


You're right, but it's unfortunate that you are.


Sort of reminds me of his "Death Stare" interview with Kara Swisher. http://live.wsj.com/video/d9-video-andrew-mason-death-stare/...

But really, hopefully it's a move in the right direction for the struggling company. There's opportunity to open new revenue streams especially considering that businesses are still creating new Groupon deals.


One thing every CEO in the world can do is spin an off-the-cuff bullshit story about how their business is sustainable. Mason didn't? That tells me very little.


Really? It's somewhat of a bad sign that he couldn't even manage that.


He also hinted at a radical new product, some social Groupon 2.0 platform that never came to fruition. I'm more curious about that in retrospect and what happened. The real story at that moment in time was the flowering of hundreds of Groupon clones.

"This guy" ...Get off it. Ideas > events > people. Leave it to HN, tearing down the mainstream success stories of our clan in ever decreasingly creative ways.

BTW, he wasn't a happy guy. He described very clearly at that event he forgot what being happy felt like while building GRPN. Sorry to bust your editorial bubble, but when you make a bold + false assertion, your detractors will use it to debase your entire narrative.

I'm learning that for a certain segment of humans the presence of rich people bring out claws and fangs, like a full moon.


Your sanctimony would be a bit more compelling if Mason had consistently happy campers creating his riches. That's not how it happened.

Groupon made a lot of money on the backs of small business owners too unsophisticated to understand the nature of the deals they were making. Whatever lack of happiness Mason sustained, it was mirrored in spades by the folks who were burned by Groupon's rapacious sales force and very casual approach to delivering checks on time.

This is a sketchy-ass company we're talking about and this guy made a lot of money off that sketch. Let's be real.


You think he was fired by the street for being too rapacious? WSJ: 'GRPN up 5%, Expected to be Less Aggressive on Earnings.' And how many of those miserable campers spending $1.5 billion a year for half-price chocolate-covered strawberries do you speak for? Any data on the number of SMBs who got bent over, or just memories of a PR kerfluffle you read last year? You should warn Uber and other companies you respect who use Groupon routinely that their checks won't be arriving on time.

My sarcasm isn't directed at you personally, but all broad strokes who delight in black ink when focusing on the aesthetic of someone's career. Schadenfreude fruit hang low.


Let's be real. It's the job of the small business owner to <i> run his damn business </i>, and if GRPN found a way to convince them to sign the checks, then all the power to them. Welcome to capitalism, read what you buy before you buy it.


Ah, but customers talk to each other, especially in this day and age. A company like GRPN doesn't really have an infrastructure advantage or technical advantage over other companies. It relies almost entirely on its network of small business customers. Turn off those customers and the sharks pick the bones of the company clean.

Edit: clarity


Must've been their suite of merchant products they've built by acquiring smaller companies and opening a Palo Alto office. https://merchants.groupon.com/demo#/dashboard


Lefkofsky and Keywell would have just shot that guy in the face.


This is a rather odd argument to post. You are faulting the CEO of a company for stating that he believes his company will do well in spite of publicly available data. No mother ever calls a child ugly. No matter what. Plus ever CEO out there exhibits this same kind of behavior. It's bad for the company when the leader is talking negatively about it.


No, if you read other comments in this thread, he's faulting the CEO for his attitude. Not the words he used.


That's my point. What attitude would you expect from a CEO? Their duty is to promote their business under all circumstances. Could he have acted differently? Sure. Bu that's just gossiping.


I'm not faulting Mason. I'm saying several non-verbal cues reflected the troubled state of his business. The sudden lack of transparency was very telling. Whatever was going on there, he did not want to talk about it. If everything were indeed hunky dory, he'd have responded differently.


Well yes, of course. I agree. But that's something all CEOs have to do in some time or another.


CEOs running companies ethically have to do it a little less often, I think.


I have never seen or known of a big company CEO being much ethical. The job requires them to deceive to a certain degree. Sad but true.


As I recall he did portray it as risky. I remember him saying something along the lines of them having the Wired Magazine covers on a wall from all the previous huge startups that failed miserably, to remind them to be humble. I guess it wasn't that effective.


It was effective; in getting more press because of the cute little anecdote. Which is the reason they did it anyhow. I would imagine that what a company has on its walls has never materially affected its future.


  +----------------------------------+
  |    TODAY'S GROUPON DAILY DEAL    |
  |                                  |
  |  1 Hour of Outsource Counseling  |
  |                                  |
  |                +---------+       |
  |       $25.00   | BUY NOW |       |
  |                +---------+       |
  |                                  |
  |    50%        137      2 days    | 
  |  savings   purchased  remaining  |
  +----------------------------------+


I know you never really left HN, but it's really good to have you back edw519.


Welcome back Ed. :)


Full memo from Andrew Mason (his jottit.com link isn't working):

People of Groupon,

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. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be - I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. 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. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don’t waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.

Love,

Andrew


That's a hell of a way to go out. He's not my favourite guy but this little note has more character and more genuine frankness than volumes written by other CEOs on their departure.


I think he's witty and charming too.

But those personality traits do not necessarily make him a good CEO.

In my non-professional opinion, this is what's happening:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attribute_substitution


Very classy. It makes one empathize with him. He's human and failed. He'll learn from it and do better next time. Or not. Either way I see him in a different light.


I love this exit letter. Clearly a nice guy that was in too deep.


The NES Battletoads reference made me smile. Great inside joke to anyone who knows the pure torture of trying to get through the fiendishly hard first 8 levels without dying. Level 9, Terra Tubes, IMHO, is one of the hardest levels in any NES game ever created.


I love the Battletoads reference. I love it.


From his twitter account:

  Yesterday:
  "Three oranges in a meeting with four of us?
   No question - I give my oranges to the others.
   #leadership"

  15 minutes ago:
  "For Groupon Employees: https://www.jottit.com/v5wux/
  (Apparently, sharing oranges is necessary but
  insufficient #leadership)"
I'm sure he's not everyone's cup of tea, but I would totally work with this guy.


In hindsight it's easy to say bad things, but rewind a couple of years and Group was exploding, awesome place to work, and felt strong enough to say no to an acquisition by Google.

Though I'll bet now the regret at that turndown has to be killing him, and many others.


From what I've read on HN in the past it was Google that walked away from that deal during due diligence and not Groupon.


Credit for the Godfather references!


"CEO Andrew Mason Replaced By Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis At Groupon"

Ha, this is somewhat like Dick Chaney letting Bush take the fall for the Iraq fuck up and then take over in 2008 "to fix things". (before you start hitting downvotes, read some background about this guy).

1) http://www.businessinsider.com/groupons-cozy-deals-with-lefk...

2) http://mashable.com/2011/06/02/groupon-cash-out/

"Altogether, $946.8 million, or roughly 86% of the funds raised across the three investments, was paid out to Groupon directors, officers and stockholders. Just $151.4 million was retained by the company to use as working capital and for general corporate purposes."


Those deck chairs would look much nicer over on the port side, no?


During my commute I pass Groupon's Palo Alto office every evening (I only go this route during the evening because it's closer to my gym). For such a large and publicized company, their building always seems empty. I never see people going in or out. I always see empty conference rooms in the window. Perhaps this doesn't reveal anything about the company, but the view from outside (literally) doesn't compare to what I see when I pass other tech companies in the area.


In 2012 alone Groupon had a net loss of about HALF A BILLION dollars, just look at their financial statements.

What an atrocity of a web business, just ugly.


Well at some point the board has to act or risk becoming the target of a shareholder lawsuit.


Do those ever work? I thought shareholder lawsuits were literally a scam law firms ran on people emotional about losing money in the market.


Almost never. The whole "companies have to maximise shareholder value or the board will get sued" thing isn't really true.

Shareholders get to vote for the board and they have a broad range of statutory protections that ensure company accounts are audited, compensation arrangements are disclosed, etc. But as far as a general right to make money? Nope. You'd only have a chance with that kind of lawsuit if the board made an obvious, colossal blunder that should have been obvious to anyone at the time.


> scam law firms ran on people emotional about losing money in the market.

No, it's a scam they run to get a class-action settlement and protection from any other similar (possibly meritorious) lawsuits, regardless of who loses money in the market. Every major decision (such as a merger) by a company, is met by an ambulance-chase race to file class actions with boilerplate charges. Check the financial news ~7 days after any public-company acquisition happens for the near-duplicate stories with differing law firm names.


They always cost money. I've been on a couple of boards and it is always advised that board members carry personal insurance against it as well. These suits often name board members and officers personally, in addition to the company. So whether or not it would prevail the incentive is to not have them start.


...And Lefkosky asserting control.

Anyone who follows Groupon more closely understand what that's likely to mean for the changes in direction they had been trying to pull off?


I worked at Groupon for about three years, during which time I witnessed Brad opening a box of Atlas Shruggeds which he gave out for christmas. I've heard Eric literally yelling in anger that certain departments within the company should not have scored so highly on the yearly employee survey that measured happiness/satisfaction.

Now that I shared those anecdotes, your guess is as good as mine.


...and GRPN is up 5% after-hours. Investors really didn't like him, did they?


Pretty classic case of 'the blame has to land somewhere' after their abysmal performance since IPO. Considering the stock price/performance vs. expectations investors see any change as positive.


I doubt you can attribute any dramatic rise in after hours stock price to actual 'investors' deciding to place buy orders seconds after hearing the news.

The after hours action is most likely driven by the many algorithmic trading systems making trades based on news flow.

In other words, we'll have to wait for some rational period of time before deciding if traditional buy and hold investors are excited by this change in leadership.


It was already down 25% for the day.


GRPN appears to have dropped more than 75% over the past couple of years. Barring some very unusual circumstances, that seems like a compelling argument for a change in leadership at any business.


They've only turned a profit once since going public and the stock is down over 75% since then.

Should have taken the $6 billion buyout from Google when they had the chance.

Honestly, it all doesn't really matter after their IPO revealed bonuses were more important than investing into their business.


I think investors are just desperate for any signs of change. This is one such sign.


What's the point of interim co-CEOs? Seems like an odd move.


No insider knowledge, but I've seen co-leads when someone departs for three reasons:

1) Make it clear to employees, shareholders, and the public that there will be another change coming. Everyone should know that a company run by co-CEOs is unlikely to be permanent. This also helps with recruiting since outside candidates know they have a legitimate shot.

2) Set up explicit competition between the two biggest contenders to win the slot. I personally believe this is dirty and guarantees the loser to leave (which I think is net bad -- the loser was a contender for CEO for a reason).

3) Reduce the need to fill someone's shoes. By giving what was one person's job to two people, those two people can focus on their areas and excel individually without unfair comparisons to their predecessor. This is especially important when the predecessor was a public figure. Think Tim Cook comparisons to Jobs. Microsoft did this with the E&D division when Robbie Bach left (Phones and Xbox went to different people).


It's not #2 - or at least there is no risk of anybody 'leaving'. These are not executives, they are the majority shareholders and control the board.


They were the other cofounders, IIRC.


Learning from RIM?


Great opportunity for a company with huge reach to move in a completely different direction.


Inevitable in hindsight...


Too bad for Mason. IMHO they should have sold to Google when they had the chance. There are many folks who applauded the decision to decline the offer. Build for the long-term, they said. In general I agree with that sentiment. But when you have a $6B offer on the table, you gotta put the kool-aid aside and be very objective about the future prospects for your company.


"But when you have a $6B offer on the table"

From my many years of experience in business I can say that anytime you have a serious offer on the table you have to decide if you are willing to risk going for door number two.

You can always point to cases where people didn't sell out and ended up better but with business you have to look at the downside not just the upside. Over the years that is the biggest mistake that I have seen people make in negotiation.

I'll give you an example with domains. I'm in the process of buying a domain for a startup and the startup will pay $50,000 maybe even $100,000 for the domain. But the owner won't even engage preferring to shoot for the stars and thinks he will get a million. He won't even state a price. At this point we will cut bait and find another name. I know fully well this business (I also own names) and I know that this domain has about a 2% chance of selling for anywhere near that amount in coming years. I have domains that I've held for 15 years and have never gotten a single offer on. I've had domains that I've held for 15 years that I've sold for big money. Anytime someone comes along with a serious offer I focus on how long it will take until the next offer will come in - if ever. Business and gambling are two different things.


It's not clear from your description, have you actually offered the $50-100K?


Nope. Offered perhaps 10,000 and getting no engagement and "sorry not interested in selling" bs. I've dealt with google and that's the only person/company that's not interested in selling any domains and doesn't need the money. (Or once a Fortune 500 company). Everybody else (especially this guy) is interested in selling. I know the "not interested technique" well. And I know this guy is a gambler and there is no end in sight to this. We don't have time to waste with someone who won't even state a price and wants to be chased.

I have found my client another domain that they are happy with.


> "sorry not interested in selling" bs

how is that bs ? I have a vanity domain that I'm not interested in selling.


Because when it's said by a company that is in the business of buying and selling domain names and has sold multiple domain names for big dollars it's BS. I operate in that industry, this isn't speculation on my part.

Otoh, if I approached Marissa Mayer to buy a domain she owned I wouldn't consider "I don't want to sell" "BS".

If I approached McDonalds and wanted to buy "hamburger.com" from them (hypothetical) and they said "don't want to sell" I wouldn't consider that BS.

But this company, that is their business (domains). It is BS.

Lastly, If your vanity domain name is (hypothetically once again) "nowblog.com" maybe you aren't interested in selling it. If someone offers you $100,000 you might be interested, correct?


What would a person need to say in order for a "not interested in selling" response be taken seriously?


For the right price, everyone is interested in selling.


Why not just use a non-optimal domain name and buy the boutique domain when the startup in question is in a stronger bargaining position and/or has more cash? Lots of YC companies have done this and it didn't seem to be a problem. Even Twitter did it.


Bad strategy. Would increase the price tremendously. This is what I do and I operate on both sides of that business. This particular company got a million dollars for a domain in a similar situation.


For $6b, I would probably have erred on the side of caution and sold. However, maybe that's why I'm not founding multi billion dollar companies. A willingness to take on significant risk is a reasonably big part of being a founder. I respect his / their willingness to have faith in their company and business model, however flawed it may have been.

For a fairly popular example of some other founders who didn't accurately value their company :

http://techcrunch.com/2010/09/29/google-excite/


That is hindsight bias. Put yourself in Andrew's shoes in 2010. Daily deals space was exploding and it seemed he made wise decision. Nobody knows future. But I appreciate Andrew for sticking to his guns and declining the offer.


"exploding"?

Only in the minds of a few people.


"Put yourself in Andrew's shoes in 2010."

The startup CEO has to be a cheerleader and biggest believer. And at the same time, the biggest realist, the most aware of the downside risks. There are times when you have to push the kool-aid aside.

"Nobody knows future."

History is littered with startups that didn't exit in frothy markets, then cratered. Timing is everything. Andrew's advisors should have been aware of the downside risks, should have had some experience with previous business cycles. IMHO they gave bad advice.


"History is littered with startups that didn't exit in frothy markets, then cratered."

Not very many with a $6b offer


20/20 hindsight, etc. A lot of people thought Zuck was crazy to turn down the acquisition offer from Yahoo in 2006, even when the offer got lowered from $1b to "only" $850m. Now Facebook's market cap is more than twice as big as Yahoo's. Alas, these sorts of things are virtually impossible to predict.


"these sorts of things are virtually impossible to predict"

Respectfully - no. (And by that I mean respect++ - I learned a lot from your book!)

The company had been around awhile, and there was data to guide the decision. Growth rates, customer acquisition costs, engineering costs, etc. At the time of the offer, a lot about Groupon's financial model was well known. It could have led to a better decision.


data + discounted cash flow model = THE FUTURE


I've heard from a lot in the Chicago startup community that was a ruse to get Microsoft to buy them (Google didn't offer 6B, but played along), playing on the stereotype that Microsoft goes for Google's scraps.


Many folks also said that Google's deal would have been conditional on numbers that Groupon couldn't meet.

So Groupon walking away from the deal could have been their only option.

That said, Google is one company that could make this sort of product work as one of the major expenses Groupon has is buying advertising.


I said the same thing to friends of mine at the time and was roundly ridiculed when the company went public at that enormous 17B valuation. They hype was just that - hype. I think Groupon will be around for a while but I have a hard time seeing ever be worth more than it is now.


Biggest lesson here is to go for Zuckerberg style control. Mason gave these guys control from the very beginning because he 'doesn't care about money' and didn't want to be greedy. Now look at him - he got fired from his own company while it's still an infant.

Pincus, Zuck and many others will have as long as they want to turn their companies around and wont be out unless they decide to quit. They learned from Steve Jobs.


Because of the nature of their businesses Zuckerberg and Pincus didn't need serious amounts of money nearly as early. Of course they took VC money, but they didn't need it so early, so desperately nor did need so much of it.


As his $700 severance package demonstrates, the guy just didn't care about money. That's admirable and I think he's awesome for it - but when it comes to whether or not you can be fired from your own company, it's foolish.

He got outplayed by smarter and savvier businessmen who had been down this road many times before.



Wow with Eric Lefkofsky as the new CEO they went from bad to worse. Lefkofsky has always been the one behind the scenes pulling all the strings from early investment, cashing out his $1 BILLION and to the IPO. Yikes!


Groupon's accounting gimmickry is extensive, and began pre-IPO (recognizing full purchase price of coupon when they are only acting as an "agent" (middleman) not as a "principal" (i.e., making the food, owning the spas for the massages etc.), which as a CFO I can tell you is Accounting 101.

Among other places: http://bit.ly/Y3hfft

And yes Rocky Agrawal and the Grumpy Accountants Professors and PrivCo.

And the accounting tricks continue - even most Wall Street analysts covering the company for a living have not picked up on it - but for "Groupon Goods last fall they changed the way they account for those purchases. (Remember for Goods their "deal-share" is even smaller than their 37% or so for restaurants/spas/etc. It's under 10% for tablets, laptops etc. So when they at first sold a $2000 flat screen TV, they booked (as forced by the SEC finally) just their $200 cut. When revenue growth slowed, they (meaning likely Eric Lefkofsky instructed) Groupon to find a way to recognize the entire $2,000 sales as their revenue. And the only way (again, speaking as a CFO who knows this intimately - not boasting my opinion is better than anyone else's, just sharing the real facts, I don't own or short the stock - and the only way they could recognize the entire $2,000 example TV sold is if they "took possession of it, then re-sold it" in plain language. And one of the requirements is that Groupon has (even briefly) the "risk of loss" (that is, the TV breaks while legally/technically in their possession before shipped to the buyer). I.e., find a way that Groupon's technically not just a deal middleman on Goods and let the buyer and seller deal with each other, but be the Reseller like Amazon.

So they literally (and this is not speculation, this is in the SEC filings - not highlighted and sort of minimally mentioned, but it's there) - they literally state starting with their third quarter 2012 10Q that beginning that quarter Groupon signed a new contract retaining a 3rd party company to act on its behalf to receive the goods from the Goods merchant, then that company acting on Groupon's behalf - with a contract that says Groupon bears "all risk of loss" and then ships it to the buyer. Now that sounds awfully inefficient, and it is, because it has to be shipped twice, reducing Groupon's margins to near zero on Groupon Goods. But it takes Groupon Goods revenue from 10% of each sale to 100$ of each sale. Starting to get the picture?

So in the last 2 quarters they reported a dramatic spike in Groupon Goods revenues (no profits of course) but analysts - not knowing any better - began to upgrade the stock, saying yes the daily deals business is slowing to almost 0$ year over year, but look at Groupon Goods! Its revenue is suddenly growing like gangbusters! (I have to give hat tip here to an Accounting Seminar that used it as an example, and to PrivCo who published a Research Note detailing it, but I checked everything in the SEC filings and can say with 100$ certainty, but of course you can confirm it yourself.)

So price targets were raised, and many former bullish turned bearish analysis (like Ken Sena from Evercore) turned bullish again, and said Groupon is going to surprise all the naysayers! Groupon Goods is its true future, it's growing in triple digits in revenue now! (Because their revenue recognized went from 10$ of each sale to 100%, by having this fulfillment company acting on their behalf briefly taking possession of the goods and contract says Groupon has "all risk of loss" - even though the possession was sometimes for 10 minutes, since they just put it in a box and shipped it right away to the waiting buyer who had already pre-ordered it. No inventory, just in and right out the door.

One more fact you should know (again gotta give hat tip to PrivCo securities lawyers on their staff who pointed this out), go to the section on "Related Party Transactions" (i.e. this is where a company is doing business or hiring a company owned by a senior Officer, Director or Major Shareholder). And in that section - brief as it is - it says one of those Related Party Transactions is that they retain and have a contract with a fulfillment company founded in mid-2012 that is owned by Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell (Groupon's co-founders, Board members and largest shareholders). Yes you read that right. They saw daily deals declining sharply, and decided they had to find a way to "grow Revenue" - without actually selling any more stuff. So they quickly formed this company that signed exactly the contract terms needed verbatim that would allow the accountants to deem Groupon as having taken possession and acting as a principal / reseller and not an agent and recognize the entire Goods amount purchased.

And most Wall Street analysts (Evercore's Ken Sena was on TODAY on BloombergTV still touting the Groupon Goods revenue growth as reason to buy the stock, even though daily deals fell for the first time ever year over year.) He's clueless, and he's telling his clients Buy based on Groupon Goods revenue growth spurt since last summer.

I'll let the HN crew react to above instead of just saying out loud what I think of that or what you should. Share what you think of that.


Exactly this. Seems like a shell game at this point with not much hope in their near-term future. Goods is a low-rent version of Woot and is going to be very hard for them to stay competitive in since most goods don't have nearly the margin they can get off a daily deals machine. And high-margin goods by nature have other sellers who can afford to spend on marketing out of that margin, negating Groupon's built-in marketing advantages.




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