Mar 1, 2013 Comments
Lost among the pile-ons, told-you-sos, and delightful schadenfreude out there around the recent Groupon management change is a simple fact: Andrew Mason has done a phenomenal job conceiving, founding and building Groupon to the company it is today; and in doing so has done more for the Chicago tech ecosystem than any other player. We all owe Andrew a tip of our hats in appreciation for what he’s accomplished, including his incredibly courageous, honest, and self-aware farewell note to the troops.
It’s not easy starting a company and building one. It’s incredibly difficult, in fact. Andrew not only created a company, and an entire new category of business, but he created the fastest growing business in the history of the world. I’ll say it again, he created the fastest growing business in the history of the world. In doing so, he’s had to deal with the struggle of both significant competition and the fatigue of potential customers as this brand new category shakes itself out. He was able to deliver phenomenal returns to his early backers in the context of doing so. And Andrew did all this with an incredible sense of humor and aplomb - despite being under incredible scrutiny and media attention.
And it’s no coincidence that Chicago’s latest tech renaissance, with 1871 as a symbol, has arisen at the same time. Back in the early ‘00, many of us early Chicago tech entrepreneurs used to say that what Chicago needed was a mammoth success - akin to what Microsoft did for Seattle and what AOL did for Virginia. Yes there have been plenty of other great successes here - Performics, GrubHub, 37signals are just a few examples- but in my opinion, Groupon has been the later-stage rocket that’s put our tech industry into orbit.
Thanks Andrew for all you’ve done, and I can’t wait to see what you’ll be doing next.