Another open letter to Andrew Mason

Dear Andrew:

As you may have heard, I am coming back to Chicago in the next couple of weeks for another round of Groupon research. Although you didn’t take me up on my invitation the last time I visited Chicago, I’d like to encourage you to re-consider this time.

Since I started writing about Groupon last June, I’ve been right about most things. Here are some of my predictions that have come true:

  • Groupon would have to abandon ACSOI.
  • Groupon would have to use net accounting instead of gross accounting.
  • Groupon Getaways wouldn’t be meaningful.
  • Groupon Now wouldn’t be meaningful.
  • Consumers would fatigue of daily deals.
  • The deal quality would go down as better merchants figured out that running Groupons is a  bad idea.
  • The Groupon Promise would turn out to be too expensive. During my last visit, I very explicitly told your PR team that they were underestimating the refund rate. This, as we know, was the cause of your restatement that has sent the stock into freefall.

I’m happy to chat with you about the current state of Groupon and the steps that management is taking to fix these problems.

There are a few other reasons you should consider meeting with me:

  • I will be meeting with current and former Groupon employees during my trip. I can only spend so much time in Chicago, so any time I spend with you is time that I’m not talking to employees.
  • I talk to most reporters who cover Groupon. Because I have spent more time than nearly anyone studying the space, I give background information to many others who are looking to learn and write about it.
  • I talk to money managers about Groupon and the local space. Before the IPO, I talked to many money managers about the offering. Most everyone I talked to listened to what I had to say and didn’t buy at the offering. (And they’re now very thankful — considering that the stock is down 35% in less than 6 months.) If there’s a better story to tell for the future, I’m sure they’d love to know.

And, who knows, after meeting, we may decide that my April Fool’s joke isn’t such a bad idea.

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About Rakesh Agrawal

Rakesh Agrawal is CEO of redesign | mobile. Previously, he launched local and mobile products for Microsoft and AOL. His personal blog is at http://blog.agrawals.org and tweets at @rakeshlobster.
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4 Responses to Another open letter to Andrew Mason

  1. jmcminntx says:

    I want to tag along! I could be your note taker and bag handler

  2. Why do you think that consumers are tiring of daily deals? Do you have any data about that?

    • Eman says:

      Over the years, I bought a few Groupon deals through the App on my phone but once I started getting daily notifications and emails about irrelevant offers, I simply uninstalled the app. My wife did the same and so many friends that I know have done the same. It’s not so much that people are getting tired of daily deals but they are getting tired of deals that don’t apply. In addition, so many well-known and favorite neighborhood businesses are realizing that Groupon is a bad deal for business, that they are not signing up as much as before. So the fact that popular stores and service providers are shying away, there aren’t as many good deals to entice people to buy.

      Rocky: great letter to Mr. Mason. Let’s give him some credit though for creating a company that’s doing just under $4 billion a year. I really think he had good intentions originally since his initial project and idea was related to fundraising of some sort. I think the Groupon idea was an unintentional bad attempt to help businesses! I hope he hires you.

      • Eman – As an insider, I know that people are joining and leaving all the time. And what you describe isn’t uncommon. But lists continue to grow in scale, and list participation is getting better every quarter. Perhaps for you Groupon never showed you interesting enough things. That’s the most common reason for someone leaving. But the audience is getting bigger all the time. It’s the difference between 1 persons behavior and the marketplace.

        That’s why I found the claim about fatigue strange. It seems like an assumption made that because the author is fatigued so is the marketplace. And I don’t see that.

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