Of all the major changes Groupon's IPO has brought about in its founder, Andrew Mason, the most striking is his change in attitude when giving interviews.
Case in point: On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal published a Q&A with the man where he defends his maturity, his company, and Groupon's profitability, and for the occasion he is wearing glasses, perhaps to seem smarter and more serious. Nevertheless, the WSJ still doles out one of the best appositives of the year in describing him: "Mr. Mason, who sometimes posts online videos of himself in his underwear doing yoga or dancing…"
Anyway, Mason is not in his underwear here but is clearly wearing his grown-up pants -- not to be confused with adult diapers -- and shoots back against his critics and the scads of Groupon clones. "People overlook the operational complexity," explains Mason. "We have 10,000 employees across 46 countries. We have thousands of salespeople talking to tens of thousands of merchants every single day. It's not an easy thing to build."
It was a missed opportunity for the WSJ to point out that even Groupon is struggling with its own "operational complexity." There are occasional reports of the company's deals going slightly awry, most memorably last year when one deal was allegedly, as it turns out, being offered by a known ex-con. Oops. But yes, Mason has acknowledged his company's growing pains.
Mason also acknowledges that the IPO hasn't been going as well as he'd like, but makes no attempt to explain why the stock has been trading below its opening price -- because he doesn't claim to know how all that stuff works:
Luckily there are people smarter than me in this world that know the answers to those kinds of questions. I leave that to the financial community.
I'm aware of it [stock price], but I think as a company we aren't driven by it. Even in our short time as a public company, we've seen enough examples of the stock shifting 5% or 10% based on nothing, that you're very quickly trained that it's a futile exercise to be responsive to the stock.
Although, for what its' worth, the stock is now above the initial asking price. As of press time, it's at $21.08.
It's a great and candid read. Go check it out over at the WSJ.
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 columnist for EGM. 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.