Andrew Mason

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Andrew Mason
Tom Glocer and Andrew Mason.jpg
Mason (right) at the E-G8 Forum in Paris, 2011
Born1981 (age 40–41)
EducationBachelor of Arts in Music (2003)[1]
Alma materBienen School of Music, Northwestern University[1]
Known forFounder and CEO of Groupon
Spouse(s)Jenny Gillespie

Andrew D. Mason (born 1981)[3] is an American businessman and entrepreneur. He is the founder and former CEO of Groupon, a Chicago-based website offering users discounts on local businesses and scholarships. He is also the founder and CEO of Descript, an audio editing tool for podcasters.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Mason grew up in a Jewish family[3] in Mount Lebanon, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Pittsburgh.[3][4] He graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in 1999 and started a Saturday morning delivery service called "Bagel Express" when he was aged 15.[5]

After graduating from Northwestern University in 2003 with a degree in music,[1] Mason worked in web design for Chicago entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky.[4][6]

Mason stopped working with Lefkofsky to attend the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy after he was awarded a scholarship. However, he dropped out of his master's degree program several months after it started. Mason also interned and worked at prominent Chicago recording studio, Electrical Audio, under recording engineer Steve Albini, whom Mason cited as an inspiration on his subsequent work ethic.[7]


Andrew was employed as a developer at InnerWorkings, a company founded by Lefkofsky, in 2006.[3][8][9] Lefkofsky provided Mason with $1 million in "seed money" to bankroll The Point, Mason's first entrepreneurial venture on the Internet.[3][dead link]

It was found that The Point – a social initiatives platform whose name was inspired by Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point – was too abstract to market, and it was stripped down to the Groupon concept, a website that sells deals to local businesses. Groupon's website states that since its beginning in November 2008, Groupon has sold more than six million deals. With Groupon taking 50 percent of every deal, plus a small credit-card handling fee,[10] in late 2010 it was reported by Mashable that Groupon's annual revenue was $800 million.[11] On December 1, 2010, The New York Times reported that Groupon was the subject of a $6 billion acquisition bid from Google, which Groupon turned down.[12]

In 2010, Mason's salary was $180,000; "at his own recommendation" it was reduced to $756.72 effective January 1, 2011, according to the company's SEC filings. In 2011, he sold $10 million worth of Groupon stock before the company went public in November. He still owns 46 million Class A shares.[13]

On December 18, 2012, Mason was named "Worst CEO of the Year" by Herb Greenberg of CNBC. Greenberg wrote, in part, "Mason's goofball antics, which can come off more like a big kid than company leader, almost make a mockery of corporate leadership – especially for a company with a market value of more than $3 billion. It would be excusable, even endearing, if the company were doing well (think Herb Kelleher of Southwest Airlines) but it's not. Sales growth is through the floor...".[14]

Mason was dismissed as Groupon's CEO on February 28, 2013, the day after the company missed analysts' expectations for sales, and fell far short of the mark when it came to profit.[15] In a letter to Groupon employees on the day of his dismissal, he wrote in part:

After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I've decided that I'd like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding – I was fired today. If you're wondering why... you haven't been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that's hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable....[16]

Journalists estimated that his severance pay was just $378.36—six months' worth of salary—based on his employment agreement and his latest public salary information.[2][17]

Mason released a motivational rock album entitled Hardly Workin’ in July 2013 through iTunes and Spotify. A journalist described the album in the following manner: "You’re not going to bump Hardly Workin’, ever. But you might give it a spin for fun, and it’s worth that much. Maybe not $9.99 on iTunes, but you could endure a Spotify ad or two just to hear someone in tech do something truly silly."[18][19] The album was produced by Don Gehman, who has worked with R.E.M. and John Mellencamp, and the motivation behind the album was explained on the website of New York's Daily News:

I managed over 12,000 people at Groupon, most under the age of 25. One thing that surprised me was that many would arrive at orientation with minimal understanding of basic business wisdom....It was with this in mind that I spent a week in LA earlier this month recording Hardly Workin’, a seven song album of motivational business music targeted at people newly entering the workforce."[20]

In February 2015, Mason released an iPhone app, Detour, selling unconventional audio tours of major cities.[21] The initial release offered seven different San Francisco expeditions, each costing $5.[22] In 2018, Detour was acquired by Bose, which was planning to use the app in an upcoming Augmented Reality platform.[23]

Personal life[edit]

Mason is married to pop/folk singer Jenny Gillespie.[24]


  1. ^ a b c "Emerging Leader: Andrew D. Mason (BSM03)". Northwestern Alumni Association. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Frank, Robert (March 1, 2013). "Andrew Mason's $378.36 Retirement Package". CNBC.
  3. ^ a b c d e Bildner, Megan (n.d.). "Groupon: A Brief History of the Rise and Fall of Andrew Mason". Daily Deal Media. Archived from the original on March 6, 2013. Retrieved April 13, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Business Insider "Groupon founder Andrew Mason is back with a cool new startup" Dec 12, 2017
  5. ^ Chicago Magazine "On Groupon and its founder, Andrew Mason" July 14, 2010
  6. ^ Business Insider "INSIDE GROUPON: The Truth About The World's Most Controversial Company" October 31, 2011
  7. ^ "Groupon 2.0". TimeOut Chicago. December 1, 2010.
  8. ^ Levy, Ari; MacMillan, Douglas (March 1, 2013). "Mason Ouster Leaves Groupon Seeking CEO to Uncover Profit". Bloomberg.
  9. ^ "Senior Management". Groupon. Archived from the original on January 20, 2013.
  10. ^ Froelke, Marcia (August 2010). "On Groupon and its founder, Andrew Mason". Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  11. ^ Parr, Ben (December 6, 2010). "Groupon Makes $800 Million in Annual Revenue, Not $2 Billion". Mashable. Retrieved March 1, 2013.
  12. ^ Kincaid, Jason (December 3, 2010). "Google bid rejected by Groupon". TechCrunch.
  13. ^ Edwards, Jim (May 2, 2012). "BIZARRE: Groupon CEO Andrew Mason's Salary Is Just $756.72". Business Insider.
  14. ^ Greenberg, Herb (December 18, 2012). Patti Domm (ed.). "Greenberg: Worst CEO of 2012". Market Insider. CNBC.
  15. ^ "Groupon ousts CEO Andrew Mason". MarketWatch. February 28, 2013.
  16. ^ de la Merced, Michael J. (February 28, 2013). "Remembering the Long, Strange Trip of Groupon's Now-Fired Chief". The New York Times.
  17. ^ Pepitone, Julianne (February 28, 2013). "Groupon CEO Andrew Mason's severance: $378.36". CNNMoney.
  18. ^ Thompson, Cadie. "Fired Groupon CEO releases rock album". Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  19. ^ Constine, Josh (July 2, 2013). "Ex-Groupon CEO Andrew Mason Releases Hokey Rock Album To Soundtrack Your Pivot (Review)". TechCrunch. AOL Inc. Retrieved July 3, 2013.
  20. ^ Eby, Margaret (July 3, 2013). "Andrew Mason, Ex-Groupon CEO, releases 'motivational business music' album Hardly Workin". Daily News. New York. Retrieved July 6, 2013.
  21. ^ "Andrew Mason's Audio Tour App Detour Goes Live And Hits The App Store". TechCrunch. Retrieved November 21, 2020.
  22. ^ Michael Liedtke, The Seattle Times. “Groupon founder turns to developing audio-tour app.” February 8, 2015. February 10, 2015.
  23. ^ Perez, Sarah (April 15, 2018). "Bose Acquires Andrew Mason's walking tour startup, Detour". TechCrunch.
  24. ^ Kapos, Shia (August 8, 2012). "Jenny Gillespie, also known as Mrs. Andrew Mason, to take stage". Chicago Business.