Groupon (GRPN) announced that Andrew Mason is out as CEO. Executive Chairman Eric Lefkofsky and Vice Chairman Ted Leonsis were jointly appointed to the newly created "Office of the Chief Executive," the company said in a statement Thursday.
"After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today," Mason said in an email to employees announcing his departure.
"If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention," he added. (Read the full text of the email below.)
Groupon shares shot up more than 10 percent following the news. What's the stock doing now? Click here for the latest after-hours quote: (GRPN).
Mason founded Groupon and the company credits him with helping to "invent the daily deals space" in a press release announcing his departure. But rumors that Mason wasn't long for this post have been buzzing for some time as the company has struggled with growth and its stock has fallen below $5.
The announcement comes a day after the company posted disappointing fourth-quarter earnings, which sent the stock down as much as 20 percent.
(Read More: Why Groupon Earnings Were Such a Disappointment)
Arvind Bhatia, managing director at Sterne Agee, said after the dismal earnings that he still has a "buy" rating on Groupon stock.
"As far as I'm concerned, this company has a pretty good board and they will eventually find the right people if Andrew is not the right guy. It's not necessarily an important part of my thesis at this point," Bhatia said.
(Read More: Forget Dismal Earnings, Groupon Still a Buy: Analyst )
Here is the full text of Mason's email to Groupon employees:
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I'm getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we've shared over the last few months, and I've never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it's time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don't be - I love Groupon, and I'm terribly proud of what we've created. I'm OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I'll now take some time to decompress (FYI I'm looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I'll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.
If there's one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what's best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don't waste the opportunity!
I will miss you terribly.
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