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Andrew Mason at YC (smandrew.com)
93 points by twakefield on May 16, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 58 comments

Hi folks,

Good to be here!

To the Chicago-based commenters: if there's anything I can do to be helpful before I leave, email me at andrew@ycombinator.com. I'm happy to hang out and give "advice" if you'll make the haul up to Evanston and help me assemble a ping pong table or cat habitrail or whatever my loser project of the week is.

Whoever said Chicago's challenge is one of talent network effects, I agree (although it depends on the nature of your company - Chicago is great for Groupon). I'd love to help solve it, but not enough to endure the handicap. Building a company is hard enough as is. And if you're really intent on self-inflicted pain for your startup, there are far more interesting ways to do it.

The album is real. Looking forward to more 50% off jokes! Can't wait!


I really enjoyed your talk last summer at pioneer way. Really excited to see you join the YC team and look forward to talking with you more in the future.

> Looking forward to more 50% off jokes! Can't wait!

You could collect and bundle them, and release them as your autobiography.

user: andrew created: 2278 days ago karma: 15

Andrew, why is this your first comment or post?

I think maybe he asked PG to wipe his previous comments or something. He had a series of Ask HN's and other comments from way back when he was just starting The Point, asking for advice on various things. Unfortunately, his posts didn't get much of a response at the time, but it was actually really inspiring to read after the fact and see him facing a lot of the same startup issues other HNers post about every day.

ah, you're right, but it's a different account: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=678949

Please stay far away from the startup scene. You're toxic.

Edit: since the downvotes from assumed sycophants are pouring in, I'm not afraid to defend my position: the story of the Groupon pump and dump is well-known here and criticism has always been widely upvoted. But once the man is right here in our midsts you retreat. This is essentially the same behavior we see over and over of society promoting the psychopath. Others might have short memories but I don't.

Your response wasn't really constructive. A lot of people may agree with your comment but now that Andrew is at YC it'd be more useful to get his side of the story and learn something from it.

Come on man. Is this necessary?

Please stay far away from HN. You're toxic.

- clobber -

created: 726 days ago

karma: 558

avg: 4.63

C'mon, you should know better.

"It was with this in mind that I spent a week in LA earlier this month recording Hardly Workin', a seven song album of motivational business music targeted at people newly entering the workforce."

I'm going to need at least a 50%-off coupon before I consider picking this one up.

It's probably going to be pretty good, at the very least entertaining. Andrew has a music background and he's funny as hell. As an ex-Groupon dev, I'll pre-order it at full price.

His sense of humor made the early years @ groupon hilarious and awkward at the same time. He hired a 19yr old kid to dress up like a ballerina and walk around without talking for an entire week...why? b/c he thought it was funny. I'll buy the album if its for real, hope Aaron makes an appearance on it

Michael's room still exists. I think most of the stuff is still in it (including the exercise bike which plays sade).

Yup. Still there. I sit just across from it.

I had to read that three times to be sure it wasn't a terrible joke.

It is almost certainly a joke. Andrew will probably be grumpy that I'm suggesting this, but try googling "Andrew Mason Yoga Video".

Just to be clear, it was a terrible joke. :)

Should have been titled "Andrew Mason arrives at YC... in order to sell his hawt business music album"

I read it twice and concluded that it must be a joke... pretty funny now either way IMO

Are you kidding me? I was looking for the iTunes link.

That's AWESOME that he is doing this. I love the fact that this guy thinks so far outside of the box.

An ALBUM of motivational BUSINESS MUSIC....wow...


Can't wait.

I am appalled by the lack of respect Andrew Mason gets on Hacker News. Sure Groupon is the not the most impressive piece of technology built in the past five years, but you can credit this guy for creating a billion dollar Company with millions of customers in a pretty short time frame. They have made mistakes along the way, but who doesn't? I also find his blogging style refreshing compared to all the semi-famous startups CEOs pontificating about stuff they have done. Next batch of YC will be lucky to have him around.

> I am appalled by the lack of respect Andrew Mason gets on Hacker News.

What? Seriously. What the fuck? Am I viewing the same HN? Just about every Andrew Mason related topic is bountiful of upvoted praise.

I'm appalled by your insinuation that respect is deserved and not earned.

JoeKM. Look at many comments about the bad jobs Groupon has created etc... I am not saying that respect is deserved, but that Andrew seems to have earned respect based on actual achievements.

What really impressed me about Groupon was how it created 12k jobs without really stealing jobs from an existing industry (make your crack about putting unprepared businesses under water here)

When I usually think of tech, I think of it cannabalizing existing industries, for example travel agents.

Andrew created a new take on the advertising industry, and brought work to tons of people. We talk a lot about big ideas- I'd like to see more ideas that send their profit into a large volume of employees, rather than making fortunes for founders or increasing investor's wealth. Humanity sure needs it.

You could say he "disrupted" the Yellow Pages and many local newspapers who were the recipients of local advertising dollars. I agree with your statements about job creation though.

> I am appalled by the lack of respect Andrew Mason gets on Hacker News

It's almost like you haven't been paying attention to a single thing about Groupon for the last couple of years.

You could start here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Groupon#Reception) but somehow I think that wouldn't matter to you.

Sounds fun: In May 2010, Groupon created a challenge to live off Groupons for one year. The contestant Josh Stevens traveled throughout the United States and to the United Kingdom and purchased all food, drinks, travel, entertainment and more from Groupon for 365 days. At the end of the year, he received a prize of $100,000

"As part of this, my wife and I are moving to San Francisco later this summer. ... Chicago is developing quickly as a technology hub, and I hope to continue to find ways to support the amazing community of entrepreneurs here."

So stay! I understand you probably get nauseous every time you run in to someone from Lightbank, but we could really use you here. The city has gotten behind entrepreneurship, there are great mentors and accelerators. Tons of businesses are getting started. But what we sorely lack is people who have gone huge, took the big risks, learned a lot, made a bunch of money and now want to dive in and give back. Obviously you want to do this, and YC is great, but TechStars Chicago could use you a whole lot more.

Can I say real quick on my way out the door that I've helped run a company from Chicago since 2005, was born and raised here, and think it's a great place to build from "startup scene" or no "startup scene", but that I have absolutely no idea what it is Chicago does to foster startups or even know what the scene here is?

We organize meetups every other month for people in my field (information security) and get a strong turnout, but very few of them seem to be engaged in any kind of startup scene here either.

Should we just be more involved in local Ruby and Python meetups?

The city needs to 4x the amount of investment capital going into Chicago-based companies. That's the real problem underlying everything. There's not enough money.

It's too hard to raise money for a new startup in Chicago. This leads to fewer startups being funded, which leads to fewer startups, which makes it riskier to join a startup that could go belly up and leave you unemployed for a few months.

In the Bay Area, if you're an engineer and your startup tanks, you can have 5 job offers in a week from other startups. If those tank, you can get 5 more offers, and so on, until something "pops". That's not how it works in Chicago, so there's real risk to joining a startup there.

The reason this works in SF is because there's just a lot more money there going into startups.

A lot of the Chicago startup booster events I've attended in recent years were based on the assertion that the city wasn't retaining top technical talent, but it could if the startup community would just try harder, or something.

The reason the best devs in Chicago are leaving or not working on startups there is because there's not enough rich people and VC funds funding startups to make it risk free and interesting for them to do so.

I'm talking my own book here a little, but I've hoped for awhile Chicago might germinate a different kind of startup from San Francisco, based on bootstrapping instead of outside investment. Or, even better, companies that start off as professional services teams and transition to products.

Chicago is a terrible place to raise money, but it's a great place to do business, better than SFBA.

I might argue some of the finer points of your assertions, but in general I believe you are correct. The existing investor community in Chicago did not make their money in tech startups, and therefore are more apprehensive to invest pre-revenue and at what have become industry standard terms.

Ultimately I think people like Andrew staying, investing and leading the way is what we need to make that transition to the next level.

There is some, but not a lot of overlap between the developer groups and startup groups.

Come by 1871, it has become the nexus of the scene. I'd love to chat about what you see as ongoing challenges as a business owner. It has been a while since we had coffee and caught up anyway.

Say when!

Yeah...those, geekfest, the clojure meetup, the node.js meetup, tech cocktail, various things at 1871, subscribe to chicago startup, etc.

Its the network effect, people gravitate to one location. SF & NYC benefit greatly from this. Chicago is nice, inexpensive, but sparse.

Labor intensive operations, like Groupon, benefit from Chicago because of the cost and availability of real estate. On the other hand, so does most of the rest of the United States.

"I managed over 12,000 people at Groupon, most under the age of 25."

So mostly CSRs / sales, right? Outbound cold calling and the like.

"Haven't you read any business books? Good to Great? Winning? The One Minute Manager?"

Why would they? Those are books aimed at business management, not customer service representatives.

I'm working as a paramedic. I don't prep for my new paramedic job by reading the textbooks my Medical Director (an MD) does.

Those are books aimed at business management, not customer service representatives.

Today's CSR may be tomorrow's manager.

I'm working as a paramedic. I don't prep for my new paramedic job by reading the textbooks my Medical Director (an MD) does.

That's a slightly different situation due to the regulatory stuff, required certifications, etc., but I'd encourage most people starting any new job to start reading the books their boss reads, and the books their bosses boss reads. At least anyone who's ambitious and plans to move up the ranks. Maybe it's just a reflection of the same attitude that makes precocious kids, well, precocious, but I've always tried to read books that went beyond whatever my current job responsibilities entailed. shrug

OTOH Groupon's customers are mostly small business owners, so in that case some business knowledge might be useful.

Yeah. I have a doctor friend who provides heart surgery for truck drivers and construction workers. On the weekends he takes classes in big rigs and hammers so he can provide better medical treatment for them.

Perhaps, but more likely cold-calling CSRs have a tightly regimented script that they are expected to follow.

>It was with this in mind that I spent a week in LA earlier this month recording Hardly Workin', a seven song album of motivational business music targeted at people newly entering the workforce.

Uh... what?

"I came to realize that there was a real need to present business wisdom in a format that is more accessible to the younger generation."

Pretty cool actually. If anything YC & HN inspire young people to dream and get engaged in business press & conventions. There's a real lack of this knowledge and worldview by the uninitiated, even amongst peers dabbling in amateur entrepreneurship for whom business inspiration are motivational meme pictures.

I think its great idea to have him at YC .He was at the helm of fast growing tech company of all time , He could defintely help the YC founders with tips on hyper growth and what pitfalls to steer clear from...the hardly working ep uhhh not so much but you never know

Why does he think people newly entering the workforce will listen to an album of motivational business music over going to Quora or Harvard Business Review to read about business?

What is Andrew Mason's HN handle?


Love this guy. Accounting issues aside, concept to IPO to goodbye letter was such an interesting journey to watch unfold. Can't wait to see what happens at YC and the new startup. Welcome to the bay, Andrew.

I think future YC applicant should follow and submit their videos as a rap song. Heck if it's good for YC partner, then it should be good for the participants. Just don't sing to, "Call Me Maybe"!

edit typo

"I'm really happy with the results and look forward to sharing them as soon as I figure out how to load music onto iTunes, hopefully in the next few weeks."

It might be a while.

Can somebody please explain why Groupon has 12,000 employees?

Cold-call sales reps, often working largely on commission.

It's a planetary empire founded on human interaction, sourcing information that wasn't available online.

a lot of people on phones trying to source good discounts in every major city in the world.

Found it myself: mostly deal writers. Still, holy shit.

A motivational business music album...

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