Groupon CEO: "I didn't realize how hard it was to run a small business"

Depending on who you ask Groupon CEO Andrew Mason is either the most under-qualified or over-qualified maitre d’ in the history of American restaurants. The 31 year old CEO has had his ups and downs when it comes to Wall streets mixed views on in his ability to run a large company like Groupon nevermind his debatable merits as a maitre d’. Mason says that his role at the restaurant is one based on learning about, what he says, is the future of Groupon’s business: the local small business.

While Groupon rose to fame based on offering daily deals at local restaurants, spas, and various salons the company understands that that particular market has cooled and it is now looking for alternative sources of revenue while still maintaining a business focused on partnerships with small businesses. What remains to be said is where this process of discovery will ultimately leave Groupon and their search for profit.

With a hardware company such as Apple one can almost always say that their business will focus on consumer products. However, it is more difficult to assess where a service oriented company like Groupon will eventually end up. Will they stick to coupons, or will they end up as some hybrid form of shopping consultants? Just take a look at their second place competitor, LivingSocial, to get an idea of how far businesses that started out peddling deals are willing to evolve to warrant the millions of dollars of funding they received over the last three years. The company launched a so-called “pop-up building” to host various events such as cooking classes and temporary restaturants.

It should be interesting to see where these cash-flush companies end up taking themselves given the relatively little amount of concrete direction they all seem to have. 

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