Groupon’s Mason: We are a technology company with an important human core

Groupon’s Mason: We are a technology company with an important human core

Groupon, the world’s leading daily deals website, is a “technology company with an important human core”, according to its founder and CEO Andrew Mason, who was discussing the growth of the company at Munich’s Digital Life Design (DLD) conference this morning.

Referring to the human side of the company, Mason distances Groupon from traditional technology companies like Facebook and Google, stating that if the team was to take a two-week vacation, the service would “go to hell immediately”, whereas Facebook and Google (in an “exaggerated use case”) would continue to operate.

“A lot of our value is in the quality of our deals, and those deals are procured by having thousands of people in 47 countries in the field talking to tens of thousands of merchants every day. So there’s a major human component to our business,” Mason said.

The Groupon founder believes that in order to unlock the “next phase” or technology aspects of the business, including features like real-time local commerce and Groupon rewards, the company needs to utilise the consumers, merchants and operations of the “first phase,” or it’s human connections, to make it a hybrid company.

As Mason says: “We set ourselves up in the beginning to be a bit of both.”

By the end of September 2011, Groupon grew from 21 million subscribers to 143 million year on year, featuring more than 250,000 merchants, saving its users $1.1 billion, even noting that it had helped its customers get 1.6 million manicures in that time.

The company has 10,000 employees, with more than 70% of them working outside of the U.S.

Mason says that the company “isn’t perfect”, but it is focused on increasing its merchant satisfaction levels given the bad press it has received over the past three years over claims it assisted in the overselling of products offered by its merchant partners.

The company intends to roll out its analytics service worldwide and also deliver its ROI tool to help companies understand the costs, profits and number of products/services it should offer during their promotions.

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