Mason said he's leaving because he's become a distraction for the company as it continues its turnaround. I'm not sure I buy that, as people will continue to have questions about Groupon until it shows it has truly turned itself around.
But how can it turn itself around? I actually think the road map is pretty clear (and it's something that Mason has been hard at work on for the last six months if not longer in some cases).
1. Keep Daily Deals Going as Much as You Can
The company has rightly pointed out that it's gone quickly from a site that was 100% focused on once a day emails to customers to several other offerings. However, just like companies like Yahoo (YHOO - Get Report) and Facebook (FB - Get Report) are having to adjust their businesses for the rapid shift to mobile, they also have to keep their mature cash cow businesses going for as long as they can. And Groupon is in exactly the same boat with daily deals. That is still the biggest part of their business. They have to keep it going and actually start growing it as fast as they can.
2. Better Customization and PersonalizationThe running joke for some time about Groupon is how useless the daily deals are for most of us. "Why do I want to get another offer for a local mani/pedi?" would be a familiar groan from male friends of mine. Yet, this is still largely what goes on at Groupon today, despite management assurances that this is slowly changing with better technology. It's still largely a mass market email dump once a day today.
3. Whack HeadcountThe company has 10,000 employees. Most of them are tied to sales and paid on commission. The company, over the last year, has persistently reeled in marketing expenses while still keeping revenue up. It's likely that there's a lot more fat to trim that a new outsider will go after -- especially in Europe.
4. Fix EuropeSpeaking of Europe, Groupon's got to fix it. It's a hole in the bottom of the ship that just keeps losing water. New COO Kal Raman has been given the task of fixing Europe with the North American playbook last quarter. Most (including me) expected to see him start to deliver results in the fourth quarter. Unfortunately, it's just taking longer to fix. One would think that Groupon would be ideally suited to mete out bargains to Europeans going through an economic crisis. Yet, they've missed the boat to this point.
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