Bloomberg BusinessWeek reports that Groupon chief executive Andrew Mason has been working as a maitre d’ in order to learn more about the restaurant business.
Critics of the daily deals company—whose prescient arguments got an airing in a WW cover story last year—might wonder why Mason didn't make that effort before running thousands of deals that pinched local businesses around the country on the way to taking his company public.
But, as the lengthy BusinessWeek article explains, Mason's self-education efforts aren't aimed so much at making Groupon's existing coupon business more merchant-friendly, but at launching a whole new set of products and services. Groupon wants to get into the point-of-sale business:
The CEO’s focus now is on building what Mason calls the “operating system for local commerce”—a suite of software and technology services that would embed Groupon into every facet of every transaction on Main Street. Mason envisions consumers using Groupon as a kind of Yellow Pages… Merchants would use the system not only as a form of advertising but also as a touch point for every sale they ring up and a hook for bringing customers back.
Of course, Groupon isn't the only tech company looking for a way to "own the entire consumer space."
The BusinessWeek piece is a fine read, with a lot of gems like this one:
“Life is not about money,” Mason says.Mason cashed out much of his stake in the company before Groupon's initial public offering late last year. Groupon shares opened at $20. Right now they're trading for approximately $7.40 and some have the company on death watch.