Does Groupon Need an Executive Shakeup?

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Groupon, Inc. (NASDAQ:GRPN) co-founder and CEO Andrew Mason will be getting a scheduled performance review at the company’s next board meeting on Thursday, and AllThingsD reports that some directors feel it’s time for a change in leadership.

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Is Andrew Mason the Right Man for the Job?

It’s clear that Mason has had some brilliant successes in launching and running Groupon so far. Groupon launched its IPO with a $12 billion valuation after attracting (and declining) a $6-billion buyout offer from Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) and a rumored $3 billion bid from Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO). Mason has pioneered a number of innovations in the online deal-of-the-day space and by all accounts is a great guy who fosters a great work environment.

But “‘The question is not whether Andrew is a good guy, but whether Groupon needs an Eric Schmidt,’” AllThingsD reports, quoting a person close to the situation. Schmidt is the CEO of Google who was brought in to work closely with the founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and provide a type of experienced, executive-level leadership they could not.

Shares of Groupon have come down over 80 percent since its IPO in the face of high marketing costs and declining interest in the daily-deals space. Both investors and the company’s management recognize that innovation and a stronger core business model are needed to spur a substantial turnaround — and everybody knows that the CEO is the hero of a good turnaround story (all eyes on Yahoo?).

How Will This Affect Groupon’s Stock?

Despite its stock price evaporating into thin air, Groupon has attracted some big-ticket attention recently. Tiger Global Management, the massively successful hedge fund run by Chase Coleman, recently disclosed a 9.9-percent stake in the company. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS), which also helped underwrite the IPO, holds a 2.2 percent stake in the company.

The right leadership could easily be a good reason for Groupon bulls to charge. Keep an eye out for news coming out of the board meeting tomorrow, but any leadership change will likely be gradual.

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