Stupid Risks

This Is Why Groupon Can’t Have Nice Things

Rule of thumb, CEOs: Never admit to overdoing it.
tumblr li7jflx3un1qi6h2oo1 400 This Is Why Groupon Can’t Have Nice Things

Mr. Mason. (Tumblr.com)

It’s been a long tumble from the height of the hype cycle for Groupon. Stock performance has been lackluster, and there’s an ever-louder chorus of doubts about the business model. So yesterday probably wasn’t the best time for CEO Andrew Mason to get caught by The Wall Street Journal admitting to a roomful of employees that he’d maybe had a little too much to drink. Whoops!

The Journal does not sound amused:

“We’re still this toddler in a grown man’s body in many ways,” Mr. Mason said during the closed-door employee meeting, which The Wall Street Journal observed via webcast. At one point during the address, Mr. Mason’s voice broke and he said, “Sorry, too much beer.”

It’s best if you imagine that line as being followed by a dramatic side-eye.

Mr. Mason also told employees that Groupon has no “margin of error” and needs to focus on things like “not taking stupid risks.” Hey, that’s pretty good advice.

Frankly, it sounds like the antics-prone Groupon CEO was just cracking a slightly fratty joke. But Trading Places aside, Wall Street isn’t exactly famous for its love of LOLs, and the market didn’t take that fourth-quarter sales revision very well. Also, the admission of “material weakness” in a company’s internal financial controls does tend to alarm investors. Shares were $20 at IPO; as of yesterday’s close, they were $12.27. In the meeting, Mr. Mason called the earnings revision “the latest in a string of just us making an example of how bad we are at being a public company,” adding, “We have to get good at this.”

They sure do: The Journal reports that there will soon be several new faces in senior management positions, and even potentially a couple of new board members.

Oh Andrew Mason is so getting defoundered if he’s not careful.

 

Follow Kelly Faircloth on Twitter or via RSS. kfaircloth@observer.com