Groupon's CEO Sorry for "Too Much Beer"
A rallying cry to the daily-deal site's staff ends in boozy embarrassment.
The CEO of the daily-deal site Groupon told his employees to grow-up—and then apologized to them for drinking too much beer. It seems that 31-year-old high-flyer Andrew Mason chugged a beer to calm his nerves before giving a speech at company meeting—which was covered by a live Wall Street Journal webcast. The young company has faced shaky earnings and slumping share prices recently, and Mason's rallying cry to employees was about "not taking stupid risks" and "quality and control.” He said of Groupon, "We're still this toddler in a grown man's body in many ways.” But then at one point during his address, his voice broke and he apologized: "Sorry, too much beer." Critics say the incident belittles the beleaguered multi-billion-dollar company's reputation. "With beer or alcohol, most of the signals those send diminish a leader's credibility and authority," says Chris Tennyson, a senior partner at public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard. “If Mason was trying to send a message of informality and camaraderie, it was lost in translation.” Groupon spokeswoman Julie Mossler defended her boss, telling MSNBC, "I've never seen Andrew drunk. It's a really relaxed environment… It's not like him drinking a beer or not drinking a beer sends a particular message." Mason's harshest critics agree with her that the beer might not have made a huge difference. "I wish he could blame it on beer all the time," says Edward Woo, senior research analyst at Ascendiant Capital Markets. "Unfortunately, he's proven that even when sober, he's not the most experienced CEO."