WBEZ | Andrew Mason http://www.wbez.org/tags/andrew-mason Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Morning Shift: Music to make you work http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-11/morning-shift-music-make-you-work-108023 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Work-Flickr-mturnage.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth checks in from The Capitol with the latest on immigration talks and legislation around student loan interest rates. On the heels of former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason&#39;s album of work songs, we play songs about the daily grind.</p><script src="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-24.js?header=false"></script><noscript>[<a href="//storify.com/WBEZ/morning-shift-24" target="_blank">View the story "Morning Shift: Music to make you work" on Storify</a>]</noscript></p> Thu, 11 Jul 2013 08:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/programs/morning-shift-tony-sarabia/2013-07-11/morning-shift-music-make-you-work-108023 Struggling Groupon says it ousted CEO Andrew Mason http://www.wbez.org/news/struggling-groupon-says-it-ousted-ceo-andrew-mason-105826 <p><p>Struggling online deals company Groupon fired founder and CEO Andrew Mason Thursday. Shares of the company, which had traded heavily during the day, jumped in after-hours trade following the announcement.</p><p>Company co-founder and current Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis were appointed to the Office of the Chief Executive on an interim basis.</p><p>&quot;Groupon will continue to invest in growth, and we are confident that with our deep management team and market-leading position, the company is well positioned for the future,&quot; Leonsis said in a statement.</p><p>Groupon said Mason was not available for interviews. But in a letter he released to employees and also via his Twitter account, Mason said he was fired (see full text of Mason&#39;s letter below).</p><p>&quot;If you&#39;re wondering why...you haven&#39;t been paying attention,&quot; Mason said in the letter.</p><p>Chicago-based Groupon reported a bigger-than-expected net loss of $81.1 million on Wednesday and provided a weak revenue outlook for the current quarter.</p><p>That net loss came despite an almost 30 percent increase in revenue.</p><p>In the letter, Mason said employees were doing &quot;amazing things&quot; at Groupon, and that he was getting in the way of that.</p><p>&quot;The board is aligned behind the strategy we&#39;ve shared over the last few months, and I&#39;ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company,&quot; he wrote. &quot;It&#39;s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.&quot;</p><p>The move had been anticipated for some time.</p><p>Barrington Research Senior Analyst Jeff Houston said it is typical of Internet startups to transition to other management as the company grows bigger.</p><p>&quot;I think it&rsquo;s always an advantage to keep the founder around in some capacity, but I don&rsquo;t think CEO was right role for him, and I think it&rsquo;s a good move to bring in a professional manager,&quot; Houston said.</p><p>Still, analysts, including Houston, have named not just management, but the company&#39;s inability to provide correct market guidance as among its main problems.</p><p>Groupon, which went public in November 2011, makes money by taking a cut from the online deals it offers on a variety of goods and services. Investors have questioned whether that business model is sustainable and leads to growth over the long term &mdash; and whether the company can not only grow its customer base but make more from each subscriber.</p><p>Groupon has the advantage of being first. This has meant brand recognition and investor demand, as evidenced by its strong public debut. But the model is easy to replicate. It has spawned many copycats after its 2008 launch, from startups such as LivingSocial to established companies such as Google Inc. and Amazon.com Inc. Chicago-based Groupon also has faced scrutiny about its high marketing expenses, enormous employee base and the way it accounted for revenue.</p><p>Groupon&#39;s stock has lost about 77 percent of its value since the IPO after losing $1.45, or 24 percent, to close Thursday at $4.53. After the announcement of Mason&#39;s ouster, the stock gained 4 percent in after-hours trading following the announcement.</p><p><strong>Full text of Mason&#39;s letter to employees below: </strong></p><p>(This is for Groupon employees, but I&#39;m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)</p><p>People of Groupon,</p><p>After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I&#39;ve decided that I&#39;d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you&#39;re wondering why... you haven&#39;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&#39;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.<br />You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I&#39;m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we&#39;ve shared over the last few months, and I&#39;ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it&#39;s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.</p><p>For those who are concerned about me, please don&#39;t be - I love Groupon, and I&#39;m terribly proud of what we&#39;ve created. I&#39;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&#39;ll now take some time to decompress (FYI I&#39;m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I&#39;ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.</p><p>If there&#39;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&#39;s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don&#39;t waste the opportunity!</p><p>I will miss you terribly.</p><p>Love,<br />Andrew</p></p> Thu, 28 Feb 2013 16:04:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/struggling-groupon-says-it-ousted-ceo-andrew-mason-105826 Groupon raises $500 million, following failed Google bid http://www.wbez.org/story/andrew-mason/groupon-raises-500-million-following-failed-google-bid <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/Groupon Getty Scott Olson.JPG" alt="" /><p><p>Momentum continues to build for Chicago-based Groupon.&nbsp; The fast-growing Internet startup has raised more than half of the $950 million it is planning to collect in its latest financing round.</p><p>The Chicago company said in a regulatory filing Thursday it's raised $500 million thus far and plans to use up to $344.5 million of the proceeds to buy back shares from existing shareholders, including founder and CEO Andrew<br />Mason.</p><p>The money is being raised just a few weeks after Google Inc.'s failed attempt to buy 2-year-old Groupon for a reported $6 billion.</p><p>Previous funding - $135 million - came from Mail.ru Group, also known as Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian Internet investment firm that also holds a stake in Facebook.<br /><br />Groupon is a web-based promotion company that uses social networking and crowdsourcing to activate targeted discounts for participating retailers, services and cultural attractions.<br /><br />&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp; &nbsp;<br /><br />&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 30 Dec 2010 19:19:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/andrew-mason/groupon-raises-500-million-following-failed-google-bid Groupon ignites Chicago startup boom http://www.wbez.org/story/andrew-mason/groupon-ignites-chicago-startup-boom <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/IMAG0315.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Now that the dust has settled and it’s clear the online discount company Groupon has reportedly walked away from six billion bucks from Google, we wanted to find out what else is going on in Chicago’s tech scene.&nbsp; Turns out, the hog butcher for the world may in fact be moving toward a cyber future.<br> <br> Ashish Rangnekar unlocks a door in Groupon's sprawling headquarters in the old Montgomery Ward building.<br> <br> He’s leading me to the office of Watermelon Express, his test-prep software company.<br> <br> RANGNEKAR: And then we are here.<br> <br> In this building, Watermelon Express is like a tiny barnacle stuck to the side of the Groupon battleship.<br> <br> It’s an example of how Groupon is transforming the culture of Chicago, creating the right atmosphere for small companies like this one to get a start.<br> <br> RANGNEKAR: I would say the last nine months have been phenomenal. I would not want to be in any other city but Chicago right now.<br> <br> And here’s the lineage to Groupon.<br> <br> Eric Lefkofsky and Brad Keywell are serial entrepreneurs who bankrolled Groupon.<br> <br> They discovered Rangnekar at the University of Chicago business school and funded his company in July.<br> <br> It’s one of eight startups they’ve invested in this year out of a new $100 million dollar fund.<br> <br> Keywell says Chicago's tech scene is starting to get the ego it needs to rival Silicon Valley.<br> <br> KEYWELL: There are enough successes now in our community that young entrepreneurs can look at those successes and say to themselves I can absolutely do it here, I can do it here in a unique way that I probably couldn't do it on the West Coast, and time to go, let's do it.<br> <br> And that's a big change.<br> <br> This city has long trailed Silicon Valley, New York, DC, even Dallas-Fort Worth in tech jobs.<br> <br> And get a load of this – Netscape, PayPal, YouTube – those could have been Chicago companies.<br> <br> Their founders studied at the University of Illinois but then quickly left for Silicon Valley.<br> <br> Groupon founder Andrew Mason says Chicago lacks a kind of entrepreneurial savvy and he says that even applies to himself.<br> <br> MASON: It didn't even really occur to me that there were people out there who would give you money on the promise that maybe someday it would turn into more money. I just was lucky enough to work for Eric Lefkofsky, who heard about one of my ideas and said hey, stupid, why don't you drop out of school and we can turn this into a company together?<br> <br> There are lots of theories about why the city’s lacked that entrepreneurial spark… everything from an aversion to risk to a fear of failure.<br> <br> But now long-time observers like Steve Kaplan say Chicago is becoming more of a place to launch great business ideas.<br> <br> He's a professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago.<br> <br> KAPLAN: I've had in my office a couple of East Coast venture capital firms saying we now view Chicago as a place to look for businesses – that didn't happen, that hasn't happened in my memory.<br> <br> Chicago investors are also getting in on the action.<br> <br> INVESTOR: I may have blanked out but did you say how much money you're looking for and what you're going to do with it?<br> BUSINESS OWNER: Yeah, we'll be looking for approximately $500,000.<br> <br> At this event called the Funding Feeding Frenzy, CEOs pitched their ideas to investors.<br> <br> Scenes like this have been taking place a lot this year in Chicago.<br> <br> As for what it would take for Chicago to become the next Silicon Valley, Andrew Mason of Groupon has this characteristically goofy take.<br> <br> Remember, he’s the kind of CEO who once hired a man to walk around the office in a tutu just for laughs.<br> <br> MASON: What’s made Silicon Valley Silicon Valley is the fact that there have been a lot of great companies that start there and then they get big and they get too big and they become a sucky place to work and then all those really smart people that learned so much go off to start their own things. So I think for Chicago to really develop a strong technology community, we need companies like Groupon to get really big and then start to suck and then for all our people to go off and do other things. So I'm actually against the idea of Chicago becoming a technology hub. I just want everybody to work for us and never leave.<br> <br> He’s mostly joking, but he has hired almost 900 people in Chicago this year.<br> <br> That alone isn’t enough to create another Silicon Valley, but with other new companies cropping up, it’s a good start.</p></p> Wed, 15 Dec 2010 06:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/andrew-mason/groupon-ignites-chicago-startup-boom