When former Groupon (NASDAQ: GRPN ) CEO Andrew Mason was in office, his business was effectively a laughingstock of Wall Street. The daily deal company practically came out of the gate into the public arena looking silly, with questionable SEC documentation and generally bizarre behavior on Mason's part (he once sent a video of himself dancing with a monkey to the whole company, for instance). The stock nosedived, and Mason was unceremoniously booted from Groupon in February 2013, which didn't even surprise the eccentric CEO himself. What has he been up to since riding off into the sunset, and how has Groupon recovered?
Working hard or...
Following his March 2013 departure from Groupon, Mason pocketed the $378.36 that was reportedly in his retirement account and basically disappeared from the public eye, with a few exceptions. Of course, Mr. Mason still has millions of dollars in Groupon stock.
Two months after getting fired, he took to his personal blog, SMAndrew, to talk about his future plans, which included starting a new company in the fall, helping out for one day a week at start-up funder Y Combinator, and last but not least, making a 1980s rock album about success in the business world, of course. So far, the only plan that appears to have come to fruition is the rock album, Hardly Workin', with songs that have titles like "Risin' Above The Pack" and "My Door Is Always Open," and which a TechCrunch review said was worth a listen "just to hear someone in tech do something truly silly."
Changing of the guard
When Mason was expelled from his position in February, the board of directors appointed both Eric Lefkofsky and Ted Leonsis to serve as Groupon's co-CEOs. Originally, they were meant to act as interim officers while the company searched for a permanent selection. However, having familiar and trustworthy faces in the roles -- Lefkofsky and Leonsis were formerly executive chairman and vice chairman, respectively, has done a better-than-expected job of keeping morale intact during a time of transition.
The results haven't been earth-shattering, but they've certainly acted as valid encouragement for a company that really needs it right now. Like so many tech companies, Lefkofsky and Co. are focusing on building Groupon's mobile presence. Between the first and third quarters of 2013, quarterly downloads of Groupon's mobile app jumped from 7 million to 9 million, adding up to 60 million worldwide. The company has also kept a steady stream of money coming in -- gross billings (the total dollar value of what consumers purchase) were up to $1.3 billion in Q3, a 10.2% increase from the same time a year earlier, while revenue for the quarter moved up 4.7% year over year to $595 million.
Monster of a merger
Groupon has also been keeping its eyes wide open for savvy acquisition opportunities. In November 2013, the company announced plans to buy Korean e-commerce company Ticket Monster -- and its holding company, LivingSocial Korea -- for a whopping $260 million.
There's certainly appeal in expanding one's presence internationally, but Groupon might be after something else through buying Ticket Monster, the Korean company's business model currently generates half of its total sales from mobile devices. According to Groupon's initial press release, Ticket Monster consistently sees year-over-year growth in annual billings in excess of 50%. Its most recent reported annual billings were more than $800 million, and the company also has four million active customers to its name that could come in very handy for Groupon in the future.
Miss you, but...
Since Mason's departure, Groupon at last appears to be establishing some solid footing on Wall Street. At its lowest point in November 2012, the company was trading at just $2.90 per share, and its stock is now worth approximately $12.22. The ascent hasn't been easy and is still well below Groupon's IPO price, but with a promising new acquisition, growth in mobile, and homebred co-CEOs steering the ship in the right direction, Groupon has already turned itself around from being a stock market joke to a solid company, and it doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.
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