* Lefkofsky says recent Groupon hires allow him to step back
* Lefkofsky was Groupon's first investor, remains big
* Groupon shares extend losses after Lefkofsky blog update
By Alistair Barr
SAN FRANCISCO, July 2 Groupon Inc
Chairman Eric Lefkofsky said on Monday he is stepping back from
hands-on, operational involvement in the world's largest daily
deal company to focus more on his venture capital firm
Lefkofsky wrote in his personal blog that he looks forward
to continuing to work with Groupon Chief Executive Andrew Mason
as chairman of Groupon's board of directors.
"But in the meantime, I've immersed myself in Lightbank and
am focused on growing the company," Lefkofsky wrote.
Groupon shares fell almost 11 percent to close at $9.51 on
Monday. The stock was down about 8 percent earlier in the day
and added to losses after Lefkofsky's update.
Lefkofsky co-founded Groupon, which was launched in November
2008, with Mason and Brad Keywell. Lefkofsky was also Groupon's
first investor, remains a major shareholder and has been a
mentor to the young CEO Mason.
Groupon shares fell earlier this year when Starbucks Corp
Chief Executive Howard Schultz left the daily deal
"Lefkofsky stepping back may have a bigger impact than
Schultz leaving the board," said Herman Leung, an analyst at
Susquehanna Financial Group. "Schultz was an advisor from 10,000
feet while Eric was in the trenches."
Leung cut his price target on Groupon shares to $12 from $15
on Monday morning partly on concern about higher marketing
expenses. The analyst also said the growth of the Groupon Goods
business may be inflating the company's take rate, an important
measure of profitability.
When Groupon started, Lefkofsky said he and Mason worked in
many different roles. But the company has hired several
executives in the past 18 months, allowing Lefkofsky to step
"When Groupon was a 'young' company, Andrew and I wore a lot
of different hats. Every time we hired someone new, we gave up a
hat," Lefkofsky wrote. "Given the breadth of the team today,
everyone's hat is planted firmly on the right head, which has
allowed me to focus on doing what I do best."