The Wall Street Journal interviewed Groupon CEO Mr. Andrew Mason about his IPO and his business. The Journal throws a whole bunch of softball questions to Groupon CEO Andrew Mason.
They either deliberately failed to ask or focused on the wrong things like these,
- Valuation – It is perfectly acceptable for a company to expect and set any valuation. It is up to the market to buy the shares at that price or not. Why question him on the valuation?
- Asking about current stock price: What is the point of asking about the stock price to any CEO? When did anyone answer anything other than,
“I’m aware of it [stock price], but I think as a company we aren’t driven by it. It’s a futile exercise to be responsive to the stock.”
- On the employee memo leaking out: Mr. Mason asnwers,
“If I knew it was going to leak,”
and the Journal reporter lets it slide. Really?
- Questioning his maturity: This is an insulting question. Ask about his challenges and how he rounds up his gaps with an executive team.
- Asking, How important is profitability?: Really? Now who is being immature, excuse me, being unaware of the number one goal of any business? This question lets Mr. Mason talk about the growth, market share etc etc.
What questions they should have asked instead?
- Question the contradiction- When Mr. Mason said,
discount to deliver more buying power for consumers, as well as solve better inventory management for merchants, delivering them more profits
The question is how can you say more buying power to customers and more profits in the same sentence? Profit implies share of net new value created. What is the net new value created?
- Is it a sales channel or marketing channel? When Mr. Mason said,
solve better inventory management
The question here should have been – are you a sales channel to dispose of excess inventory without cannibalizing current full-priced sales or are you a marketing channel to acquire new full-price customers?
- What happens when Groupon turns into a daily habit?
The title of this article is a quote by Mr. mason in the article. What would happen if customers are used to the ”ridiculously large discount” they get from Groupon? What does this mean to the small businesses?
- How does the upfront investment pay off in the long run? – When Mr. Mason said,
There’s an upfront investment that we know pays off over the long-term
The question should have been, is that a guarantee? hope? insurance? promise? What metrics are you providing to small businesses to measure that pay off? There is no data or assurance that deal seekers come back. Besides didn’t he just say, “we can turn Groupon into a daily habit for customers”?
- Did you read the book?
Why not buy a copy of this book and give it to all the small businesses before signing them up to do Groupon?