The company announced the management change in a terse statement this afternoon. It said that Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis would participate in a newly created Office of the Chief Executive, effective immediately, serving in this role on an interim basis until the board finds a CEO replacement.
"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 the statement. It also quotes Leonsis saying that "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."
Separately, Mason issued his own, announcing that he had been cashiered.
"I was fired today," Mason wrote. "If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable."
The news follows another disappointing quarter from Groupon. At one point in early 2011, the online group budget deals company was logging gross billings growth of 1,400 percent year over year. (That's not a typo.) But as the company's growth rate slowed, its marketing and sales costs have been climbing. In its fourth quarter, the company lost $81.1 million, compared with a $65.4 million loss a year earlier. The news drove down the company's shares by about a fifth of its value. The stock closed today at $4.53, compared with its 52-week low of $2.60.
After the company released its earnings yesterday, analysts again voiced a lack of confidence in its ability to execute -- adding further pressure on Groupon's board of directors to make a move. Over the last year, there has been no shortage of chatter about the board debating whether to replace Mason.