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Groupon CEO Mason sent packing as shares continue to plummet

'I was fired today and you all know why'

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason has been handed his walking papers, to be replaced by executive chairman Eric Lefkofsky and vice chairman Ted Leonsis on an interim basis while the board looks for a new chief exec.

The move comes less than 24 hours after the struggling daily-deals site announced yet another disappointing quarter, posting some $80m in losses.

"On behalf of the entire Groupon Board, I want to thank Andrew for his leadership, his creativity and his deep loyalty to Groupon. As a founder, Andrew helped invent the daily deals space, leading Groupon to become one of the fastest growing companies in history," Lefkofsky said in a statement on Thursday.

The board gave no specific reasons for Mason's ouster, but a change in leadership will surely be welcomed by Groupon's shareholders, who have watched the company's stock price slide almost since the moment its public offering was floated in November 2011.

Groupon's shares plummeted 24.8 per cent on Wednesday alone, following the company's disastrous earnings announcement, then shed another 24.3 per cent on Thursday, to land at $4.53 as markets closed. That's still not an all-time low for the company, but it's a far cry from its $20 initial offering price.

For his part, Mason says he has no illusions about his role in the company's financial woes. In a separate, personal statement to Groupon employees issued on Thursday, the former CEO made no bones about the reasons for his departure.

"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," Mason joked, echoing the standard boilerplate for abruptly terminated execs everywhere.  "Just kidding – I was fired today. If you're wondering why ... you haven't been paying attention."

Mason said he was "accountable" for Groupon's present financial position, but that he still believed the company would be successful in the long run, despite all of the negative press it has weathered.

"You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance," Mason wrote. "I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance."

Mason further said that he doesn't mind "having failed at this part of the journey," given what Groupon accomplished with him at the reins – a point he made with a rather odd analogy.

"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," Mason wrote. "I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you."

Groupon's board has not mentioned any possible candidates to take over the top spot – though from the sound of it, it plans to recruit a new CEO from outside the company. No time frame for the replacement was given.

"Groupon will continue to invest in growth, and we are confident that with our deep management team and market-leading position, the company is well positioned for the future," Leonsis said.

Whatever you say, Ted... ®

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