According to Bloomberg, which cited “a person familiar with the matter”, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason turned down Google’s offer at least partly because “had concerns about the strategic direction under new management and what could happen to his employees if he sold to Google.”
The report also says that Groupon, “spurned an offer of as much as $6 billion that included performance incentives,” and that Groupon, “will decide next year whether to go the route of an initial public offering instead.” Neither of these revelations are particularly new, and it is unclear from the report whether Bloomberg’s sources are all one person of multiple people.
However, this is first time that we’ve heard any account that money wasn’t the sole deciding factor in the decision not to sell (of course, assuming the report is accurate). Let’s assume for a second that it is – first of all, we’re guessing that the employees with stock options would have done just fine, so Mason probably shouldn’t have worried too much. Also, Google is in a hiring frenzy right now, so it would seem unlikely to us that it would have cut many (if any) of Groupon’s staff. In fact, we’d say that the fact that Groupon already has a reasonably large workforce was one of the attractive things to Google.
The “strategic direction” “under new management” issue, however, is very interesting. Was Mason told that he wouldn’t be in charge of Groupon after the sale? Probably – we’ve guessed that Marissa Mayer would have been put in charge. Also, beyond losing control of his company, what else may Google have said as far as strategy that Mason might not have liked?
Was Google planning on doing something with Groupon that he felt would slow its growth? Well, we’ll probably never know unless Mason himself some time in the future opens up about all of this, but still, it’s interesting to see some hint of other motives other than raw cash involved in the decision.
We’ll email Groupon for comment.
Author’s p.s. This really is my last post on this. I think…