Groupon: IPO rumble mutated us into Wolverine
X-Men wannabe CEO explains SEC showdown on telly
Vid Groupon's 31-year-old CEO and founder Andrew Mason went on CBS chat show 60 Minutes to explain why Groupon misreported its profits in the months before its flotation on the stock exchange.
Groupon was rapped by regulators after it was found that the company had used a controversial accounting metric, which meant it subtracted online marketing expenses from its operating performance, arguably giving a misleading impression of profitability. The company was also made to restate its revenue, halving its initial profits.
Regulation forbade Mason from commenting on the controversies before the flotation in November, but he decided to send an email to his 10,000 employees explaining the figures - which were leaked to the press, landing the nude yoga-practitioner in more hot water.
Naturally the infamous video where Mason gives YouTubers yoga lessons in his underwear also came up during the interview...
Mason, who is known for being "wacky" – he showed up for the 60 Minutes interview sans tie, though he did point out he had called ahead to ask if he needed to wear one – admitted that "there are things we should have done differently". But he explained that Groupon is attracting the haters because the coupon-pushing site was so successful:
People had never seen anything grow quite so fast, and that made people want to dig in. We're inventing a new industry. If we were smart evil people, we would be more cunning and subtle in our evil ways.
In the end though, Mason learned that getting rapped by regulators was like growing a layer of hardened adamantium on his internal skeleton:
I'm not going to pretend like its been fun to have something that we poured our hearts into over the last three years, and see it criticised while we have our mouths taped shut.
We've now been hazed, we're like Wolverine and our skin has been melted off. We've had adamantium fused onto our bones. And it's made us stronger as a result.
CBS report also highlighted Mason's office washroom - apparently a porta-loo ["porta-potty" in American]. Mason also spoke to 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl about Groupon's expensive payroll – 10,000 employees strong – and its failure to turn a profit. ®
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