Groupon CEO's goodbye pay: $378.36

The newly unemployed Andrew Mason will take home half of his annual salary as severance. Sounds great until you see what he was making.

By Kim Peterson Mar 1, 2013 1:45PM
Andrew Mason in December 2012 ( David Paul Morris/Bloomberg via Getty Images)Andrew Mason, the 32-year-old CEO that Groupon (GRPN) fired Thursday, isn't leaving with a golden parachute. His parachute is made of toilet paper and toothpicks.

According to Mason's employment agreement with the company he co-founded, Groupon will only pay his salary for six months after he leaves. That sounds great until you see what he was making: $756.72 a year.

So Mason will be taking home half of that, or $378.36.

How did Mason land on that salary? Who knows? The company isn't saying. He asked for a pay cut in 2011 from the $180,000 he was making previously.

And now, fresh from what had to have been a nightmare helming a struggling company like Groupon, Mason has enough to do any of the following:
  • Buy an Acer Aspire laptop for future job searches (another Groupon, naturally)
  • Buy a Wii U Deluxe from Nintendo (NTDOY). He is a video-game fan, after all.
But Mason isn't leaving Groupon empty-handed. He has about 46 million shares of the company, or 7% of the total. Based on Friday's trading price of $4.96, he's worth about $228 million.

Mason's humorous goodbye memo to employees is getting a lot of praise from the Internet Friday. He told workers that they "deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance."

Here's the entire memo:
People of Groupon,

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven'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'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.

You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we've shared over the last few months, and I've never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it's time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.

For those who are concerned about me, please don't be - I love Groupon, and I'm terribly proud of what we've created. I'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'll now take some time to decompress (FYI I'm looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I'll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.

If there'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's best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don't waste the opportunity!

I will miss you terribly.

Love,

Andrew

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56Comments
Mar 1, 2013 3:44PM
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He really missed out when Google offered him 6BL for Groupon just a few years ago.
Mar 4, 2013 12:55PM
Mar 4, 2013 9:53AM
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@ Pinhead: Maybe you missed the part where his net worth is$228 million. There are a lot of other greedy CEOs who could learn a lesson from this guy. Once you die, you can't take it with you, so leave it for theemployees who are the back bone of the company.
Mar 4, 2013 12:14PM
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Hoorah for Andrew! In stepping aside (not necessarily down), he may be more of a leader than we knew. Not every management or leadership style style fits every situation across the board. The ability to recognize this fact and then act appropriately takes courage, vision, action, and yes.....leadership.  
Mar 1, 2013 5:57PM
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Wow no comments on a CEO making $756.72  a year.......Everyone must be on the political boards today.
Mar 4, 2013 10:28AM
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He sold 10 Million dollars of stock last year asper public records and currently holds over 42 million shares of Groupon stock worth over 200 million dollars......................He won't be on any bread line.
Mar 4, 2013 12:35PM
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As a small business owner, I was approached by groupon and I ran in the other direction after figuring out the numbers.

I own a small yoga studio and they wanted me to offer 30 days of yoga for $30.  Great deal, and I'd be totally on board except--GROUPON GETS HALF OF THAT!

So I get $15 per transaction.  Minus the credit card fee, of course.  So people that come in to take a yoga class are paying about $2 per class.  Let's say I get 20 people in my class. That means that the studio is making $40 per class.  From that $40, I'm paying my teacher $75.

That puts me at -$15 per class.  In March, I offer 109 classes.  Bringing the total to t -$1635.  From that negative amount, I have to pay my rent, my utilities, and all other normal monthly costs.  When it's all said and done, I'm facing a loss of close to $4000 just for offering the Groupon.

If I had followed through with the Groupon, I would have easily put myself out of business.  

Groupon does NOT help small businesses.
Mar 4, 2013 3:09PM
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They'll replace him with a guy who will insist on a massive compensation package whether he succeeds or fails.
Mar 4, 2013 2:22PM
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I have always bought Groupons since I was aware of it's existence, and have never had a problem with any of them (and I have bought a few ).  So he's humble and  realized his mistakes. He left with an appropriate salary for a CEO (millions in shares of the Company). So be it. I will still purchase from Groupons because it always satisfied my needs. For the people who don't like it because it doesn't promote gun sales or are not happy because they lose money on the product they sell through Groupons, I say "GO SOMEWHERE ELSE".
Mar 2, 2013 4:09PM
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folks who offer their goods for groupon are dying to make sales the easy way to one time customers...as well as benefitting a company that deserves nothing for what their ploy actually provides..which is nothing but a loss is revenues otherwise gained through actual sales

Mar 4, 2013 10:27AM
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...guess that's why they call you pinhead...
Mar 4, 2013 2:14PM
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Wow! Just how smart is this guy? No income tax and gets Earned Income Credit to boot. The government pays him our taxes. No tax on the stock unless he sells it. Then it is capital gains and will likely show a loss also. He is too smart to sell it, just use it as collateral to borrow against and deduct the interest he pays on the loans. All I can say is more power to him. He is awesome to say the least.
Mar 4, 2013 12:08PM
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Hmm 378.  Do you think the company used a coupon to pay him?
Mar 4, 2013 4:03PM
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He walks away with 228 million in shares for taking less then 5 years to put a billion dollar corporation in the toilet. He pays no taxes on that unless he sells. By borrowing, he gets an interest write off and pays no income taxes. If the stock tanks, he walks away with a loan backed by useless stock. While this doesn't make him a bad person it certainly doesn't place him for canonization.
Mar 4, 2013 3:55PM
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Since he is fired and only draws less than a thousand dollars in salary, can he collect unemployment?
Mar 4, 2013 9:48PM
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Living Social has better deals anyway.......
Mar 4, 2013 12:02PM
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This is all new to me, although I have made a purchase on Grouoon before.  What do you mean by, "Groupon is a dying company. They no longer support real Americans."??.

Mar 4, 2013 7:33PM
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sounds like the company used their coupon on that occasion... ohhhh the irony

Mar 4, 2013 6:19PM
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Andrew,Assuming you are getting a significant amount of offers ... email me and I believe you will be thrilled at the prospects.
Mar 4, 2013 4:32PM
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For everybody who thinks that MSNBC is anti-business and leftist - look at that headline ad then read the story - talk about burying the lead!
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