* Board ends meeting with decision to retain Mason as CEO
* Growth of online daily deals has cooled, competition grows
* Europe poses challenge with debt crisis, reluctant
By Alistair Barr
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov 29 Andrew Mason will remain
CEO of Groupon Inc, a company spokesman said on
Thursday after the board of directors decided to retain the
company co-founder as head of the struggling online marketer of
Shares of Groupon, which fetched $20 in its Wall Street
debut last year, slid almost 4 percent to $4.36 in after-hours
trade. The stock had jumped a day earlier, when Mason said he
would fire himself if the board decided on that step at its
regular Thursday meeting.
After the meeting concluded, spokesman Paul Taaffe said
Mason was staying on as CEO Of the company that has been
struggling to jump-start a faltering international business and
revive the sputtering growth of its daily deals.
"The board and the management team are focused on the
performance of the company and they are all working together
with heads down to achieve Groupon's objectives," Taaffe said in
an emailed statement without elaborating.
Wall Street has cooled on the five-year-old Internet company
once touted for transforming local business advertising by
marketing Internet discounts on everything from spa treatments
Some analysts have also questioned whether Mason has enough
business experience to run a company that grew very quickly and
now has thousand of employees across the globe.
Investors have grown uneasy about Groupon as fever for daily
deals has cooled among consumers and merchants. Europe has been
a particular problem as its debt crisis has sapped demand for
higher-priced deals and as merchants have balked at steep
discounts Groupon had offered there.
Groupon and rivals in the daily deals business, like
Amazon.com-backed LivingSocial, have been forced to
revamp their business models as daily-deal fever waned.
LivingSocial cut almost 10 percent of its staff on Thursday.
Groupon's efforts to reduce reliance on plain vanilla deals
include bumping up its "Goods" retail business, increasing the
selection of "persistent" or long-running deals, and allowing
users to search for such deals on demand.
Shares in the company surged 12 percent on Wednesday, after
Mason's publicly broadcast interview at the Business Insider
"Ignition" conference in New York.
Analysts said Mason's upfront demeanor and stated
willingness to do what was right for the company -- including
stepping down -- impressed some investors.
"If I ever thought I wasn't the right guy for the job, I'd
be the first person to fire myself," he said during the
interview on Wednesday.