Mason likely a better investment than Groupon
The ex-Groupon chief isn't the first tech CEO to get fired from the company he created. And he may not be the last such executive to go on to have a memorable career.
Investors bid up Groupon (GRPN) shares by more than 12% Friday following the firing of 32 year-old CEO Andrew Mason. Personally, I would rather invest in Mason.
People like Mason may not run corporate America, but its people like him -- people with active imaginations and who aren't interested in playing it safe -- who create it.
Groupon isn't to be written off completely as an investment. The fact that it has fallen 83% since its initial public offering, in November 2011, doesn't change the fact that the company had 41 million active customers in 2012 and has worked with more than 500,000 merchants.
As RBC Capital Markets analyst Mark Mahaney told Bloomberg Television Friday morning, "That's not just thin air. There is a business here that can be picked up."
It may be possible to make a lot of money investing in the daily deals business. But I'm not too keen on the idea of a committee of rent-a-suits trying to implement Mason's vision now that he's gone.
Once a company has been created, especially a public one, it's hard to kill. The corpse can stumble along for years while vulture investors, accountants, attorneys, insurers and other creatures of the corporate underworld pick at its carcass.
I wouldn't want to get into fight with those nasty creatures over Groupon's last remaining drops of blood, however.
I'd rather hang out in the land of the living with a brilliant young guy like Andrew Mason, who, from what I can tell, created his company out of little more than a sense of humor and a feeling that people are itching for an excuse to go out and have a good time with their friends.
It appears that that idea may not suffice to sustain a multibillion-dollar company. Its hard to believe serious investors ever thought it was.
I don't follow Groupon closely. I've never even responded to one of its offers. But I've admired Mason. The guy appears to have more humanity in his left pinkie than you'd find in the average roomful of Harvard MBAs.
After his unceremonious dismissal, Mason may have had enough of corporate life. But if he comes back to it when he's 40 or 50, I'd be awfully interested to hear what he has to say. By that time, hopefully, the shell that is Groupon will have been given a decent burial.
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