MUNICH, GERMANY - JANUARY 23: Andrew Mason, CEO of Groupon, speaks during the Digital Life Design conference (DLD) at HVB Forum on January 23, 2012 in Munich, Germany. DLD (Digital - Life - Design) is a global conference network on innovation, digital, science and culture which connects business, creative and social leaders, opinion-formers and investors for crossover conversation and inspiration. (Photo by Johannes Simon/Getty Images)
I just checked the calendar and it doesn't seem to be Opposite Day yet, so I can only assume Andrew Mason is either being unwarrantedly defiant or just plain-old daft when the Groupon CEO said in an interview Friday that "most companies would kill for" Groupon's growth rate. That rate, according to Mason, is 45 percent year over year. And, also, they're "quite proud of them."
Proud of what, exactly?
It wasn't that long ago that Mason vowed the company needs to grow up, learn from its myriad mistakes and to "get good at this." Mason said that back in April, and "this" was being a public company. Groupon's stock is at $4.30. Andrew. You haven't gotten good at "this," yet, so what on earth are you talking about?
Mason told the Tribune:
Any time you see us launch a new channel like Groupon Goods or Groupon Now or Groupon Getaways, those are the sorts of investments we're doing in order to expand our relationship with customers and increase wallet share… These types of things are investments. If we were purely interested in optimizing for immediate term revenue, we might make different decisions.
So, let's do a little bit of basic arithmetic here. Groupon is spreading itself thinner and thinner, diluting its vision and muddying what customers can expect from them and these expansions. Even if they are growing at 45 percent, there are considerable growing pains. It isn't worth repeating the list of all the hiccups the company has had, because they've been documented over and over again, but one of the new products Groupon is testing is called Groupon Light. It's designed for merchants to send Groupons out to 100 to 200 customers a month, to combat the repeated instances of companies being overwhelmed by patrons to the point of having to shut their doors. I'm skeptical about this largely because, well, what company is going to not want as many customers in the door as possible? That's why so many bakeries, restaurants and whatever have been shut down.
How does that add up, then?
Mason also added that Groupon needs to "do a better job of fulfilling demand and not just generating demand." From my perspective, Groupon has been generating less and less demand overtime, and it might be too late to fulfill what demands remain.
The stock price doesn't lie. Groupon needs to stop futzing about and do what it said it'd do back in April: grow up.
David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as an interviewer-writer for Adult Swim, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. When not playing video games for work he's thinking of dashing out to Chicago Diner, Pizano's, or Yummy Yummy. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.