Why I’m joining Groupon

My life has taken quite a few turns over the last year, but none stranger than yesterday’s.

After taking Groupon to task for the bazillionth time, I got a call from Andrew Mason. This was shocking because Groupon PR has kept me from talking to him for 9 months now. As I’ve said before, I think that’s an idiotic strategy — it’s best to engage with your critics, not ignore them. Especially when they have a platform and can clearly explain your challenges. (I was talking to one senior exec who said that if he’d been in Groupon’s shoes, the first thing he would have done after the quiet period was to put Andrew on stage for a no-holds barred interview with me.)

Andrew finally decided to engage me. During a lengthy conversation, I realized that he actually cares about the success of small businesses as much as I do and that he genuinely wants to do the right thing by them and help them to grow. He sees many of the same problems that I’ve pointed out in my analysis of Groupon since last June and wants to improve the company and create better products for SMBs.

Aside from the last year, I’ve spent my entire career in product management and business development. It’s my true passion. I’ve also spent much of my career on local products. It’s time for me to get back to that. I’m pleased to announce that I will be joining Groupon to help them create better products that truly meet the needs of small businesses.

Most such announcements are filled with flowery language about how great the company is. Obviously that would be fake coming from me, so I won’t make such claims.

I will still be based out of Silicon Valley. As I said yesterday, I think one of Groupon’s strongest chances for success is finding companies they can acquire to create a more sustainable model for Groupon and a better value for merchants. Because I have a knack for finding and analyzing companies, this will be part of my work.

I’m going into this with my eyes wide open:

  • I realize that part of the reason that Andrew extended the offer may be to offset the shellacking that Groupon will likely receive tomorrow in light of the restatement. Being able to announce that their biggest critic is joining the team to help them improve their business might preserve a bit of their market cap.
  • I know that the company faces a number of challenges — I’ve been chronicling them more than anyone. There are many others that I haven’t written about.
  • I will undoubtedly have to deal with a lot of ruffled feathers.

It would be intellectually dishonest (and futile) to try to remove my criticisms of Groupon from the Web. Instead, they’ll serve as a to-do list of things that need to be fixed. But it does mean that I won’t be publicly exposing any more flaws in Groupon’s business; I will work to rectify them from the inside.

I have always believed in tackling hard challenges and I think this will be a tough one, but I’m looking forward to it.

Thank you for all of your support over the last year!

Oh, and Groupon’s lawyers insist that I add this:

Forward-Looking Statements

This announcement contains forward-looking statements that involve risks and uncertainties, and actual results could differ materially from those discussed. Factors that could cause or contribute to such differences include, but are not limited to, the factors included under the headings “Risk Factors” and “Management’s Discussion and Analysis of Financial Condition and Results of Operations in the company’s registration statement on Form S-1, as amended, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission on November 1, 2011, copies of which may be obtained by visiting the company’s Investor Relations web site at http://investor.groupon.com or the SEC’s web site at www.sec.gov. Groupon’s actual results could differ materially from those predicted or implied and reported results should not be considered as an indication of future performance. The SEC particularly advises investors to be skeptical of announcements posted on April 1 of any year.

You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. Although we believe that the expectations reflected in the forward-looking statements are reasonable, we cannot guarantee that the future results, levels of activity, performance or events and circumstances reflected in the forward-looking statements will be achieved or occur. Moreover, neither we nor any other person assumes responsibility for the accuracy and completeness of the forward-looking statements. We undertake no obligation to update publicly any forward-looking statements for any reason after the date of this press release to conform these statements to actual results or to changes in our expectations.


About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is Senior Director of product at Amazon (Audible). Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. He tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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12 Responses to Why I’m joining Groupon

  1. Jay says:

    Okay, I read the whole thing, and had conflicting thoughts for at least 30 seconds, before grokking. Well done and thank you!

  2. Roger J. Hourihan, ATA, ATP says:

    how much did it take Rocky? It was once said ever person can be bought depending on the price.

  3. Eric Willis says:

    Well done.

  4. David says:

    Made my morning.

  5. Eman says:

    Any reason why my last comment was removed? Just because I criticized your decision? I wish you all the best and I hope you can help groupon to be more small business friendly, however, not after ruining so many over the last 3-4 years.

  6. AB says:

    “The SEC particularly advises investors to be skeptical of announcements posted on April 1 of any year.”

    Very Good!

  7. Eman says:

    Good one rocky!

  8. I may be dense, Rocky, but please, PLEASE tell me this is an April Fool’s joke.

  9. Pingback: Best practices for April Fool’s Day « reDesign

  10. jason rushin says:

    Shoot, you got me and it’s nearly a week later! Good one!

  11. Pingback: Another open letter to Andrew Mason « reDesign

  12. Pingback: Would Rocky Agrawal ever work for Groupon? « reDesign

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