In a normal world, it's not a good sign when a CEO publicly balked at the state of affairs at his company, highlighting its hemorrhaging stock price. But we learned long ago that Groupon does not operate in a normal world. The wavering daily deals site isn't just falling on hard times anymore. It's swimming in them. Groupon stock rocked Nasdaq last November when it went public at $20 a share and rallied to close at $28 on the first day of trading. It's gone nowhere but down since then, and on Tuesday, a share of Groupon cost just $3.96. That amounts to a staggering 80 percent decline in just a year.
Enter Andrew Mason, Groupon's founder and chief executive. At a Business Insider conference on Wednesday, Mason admitted that "it would be weird" if Groupon's investors didn't question his leadership after such a epic fall from grace. He admitted that the company he founded just four years ago "had bumps in the road" and was "paying for" its decision to expand in Europe too soon. "Here's a news flash: our stock is down about 80%. It would be more noteworthy if the board wasn't discussing whether I'm the right guy for the job," Mason added. "If I ever thought I wasn't the right person for the job, I'd be the first person to fire myself."
Well, Groupon investors just loved this idea. By the end of the day, the company's stock skyrocketed, picking up a 12 percent gain and closing at $4.42. That's still a long ways from $28, but the price is certainly not as close to 0 as it was before Mason ostensibly offered to show himself the door. In truth, Groupon's problems run much deeper than Mason's shortcomings as a leader. After Mason's interview on Wednesday, Business Insider's own founder Henry Blodget said in a blog post that the bump in price could just be a "random market fluctuation."
Or it might be genuine hope that Mason is approaching his company's problems forthrightly. Indeed, it sounds like he is. All things considered, Mason says, "I want to do what's best for Groupon." Based on the market's reaction, it sounds like the best thing for Groupon might just be Mason talking more about firing himself. That, or actually doing it.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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