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Reports: Andrew Mason To Remain At Helm Of Groupon

Beleaguered daily deals website Groupon, Inc.'s (GRPN) Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mason survived a plan to replace him at a regularly scheduled board meeting earlier in the day, with the company saying that there is no change at the helm, according to media reports on Thursday.

Mason has been facing criticism on the slowing growth and stock decline of the company. Some of the directors were reportedly planning to voice their concerns at the meeting, including senior management changes, amid the increasing frustration at the performance of Mason. The concerns primarily came from the other two co-founders on the board, Eric Lefkofksy and Brad Keywell.

However, the board is said to have decided to "work together with heads down" to achieve Groupon's objectives, and to focus on the performance of the company, with Mason remaining in his role.

Mason said at a conference in New York on Wednesday that he remains the best person to steer Groupon, and added "if I ever thought I wasn't the right guy for the job, I'd be the first person to fire myself."

Mason had led the company's highly successful initial public offering a year ago. The five-year-old Internet company was once billed as the fastest-growing company in history. As the company grew large, analysts began to question Mason's business experience to run the fast growing business.

Groupon's shares plunged 87 percent to a record low of $2.63 in November, compared to its IPO debut of $20 per share in November 2011. The company's IPO was the biggest ever public offer by a U.S.-based Internet company after Google Inc. (GOOG) raised about $1.9 billion in 2004.

Chicago, Illinois-based Groupon decided to stay independent and chose to pursue an initial public offering after it turned down a $6 billion acquisition offer by Google, Inc. (GOOG) in December 2010, after holding direct negotiations for about a week. In October 2010, Yahoo! Inc. (YHOO) was also rumored to have offered over $3 billion to buy Groupon.

Groupon grew out of a website called The Point, which was launched in November 2007, that lets users start a campaign asking people to give money or do something as a group. The company was co-founded by Andrew Mason, Bradley Keywell and Eric Lefkofsky.

In early November, Chicago, Illinois-based Groupon reported a loss for the third quarter that narrowed from last year on strong revenue growth. However, the company's investors were not impressed with the results, as the top-line growth was slower than previous quarters.

Groupon's international revenues continued to be impacted by economic weakness in Europe. The company, which has a business model that is easy to imitate, has also been affected by imitators such as LivingSocial and Amazon Local.

Even the two imitators are struggling, with LivingSocial on Thursday announcing a decision to cut about 10 percent of its staff.

GRPN closed Thursday's regular trading session at $4.54, up $0.12 or 2.71% on a volume of 35.97 million shares. However, the stock lost $0.17 or 3.74% in after-hours.

by RTT Staff Writer

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