He is the CEO of a multibillion dollar company but his executive bathroom, behind his desk, is a portable outhouse. It's a practical joke, of course, but it's just one of the many antics that make Andrew Mason untraditional for a man heading a company with monthly revenues in the hundreds of millions of dollars.
Mason, CEO and cofounder of online daily deals site Groupon, says he may not be the traditional CEO but being the founder makes up for it. Mason sits down with Lesley Stahl for his first major interview since taking Groupon public in November, for a "60 Minutes" story to be broadcast Sunday, Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
Mason is anything but buttoned down. How many CEOs have a video of themselves on YouTube doing yoga in their underwear in front of a Christmas tree? "I think that if there's any difference between me and a traditional CEO it's that I've been unwilling to change myself or shape my personality around what is expected," says the 31-year-old entrepreneur. "Am I as experienced, or mature, or smart as others CEOs? No probably not, but there's something, I think, very useful about having a founder as the CEO."
And, he says, it's working. Groupon, an online site whose members can get daily discounts from local businesses, has recently had the biggest initial public stock offering of any Internet company since Google. On the first day of trading, the barely three-year-old Groupon's worth jumped as high as $18 billion. It has spawned a cottage industry of "daily deals" imitators, yet it remains firmly and unassailably at the head of the pack.
But the company's stock price has gone up and down since opening day, dipping at times below its initial pricing. More importantly: Despite earning the title of "the fastest growing company ever" on the cover of Forbes, Groupon has yet to turn a profit as it expands overseas and spends millions in marketing costs. And in the run-up to going public, as Groupon disclosed its accounting methods, some analysts began calling the company "unviable," even "a Ponzi scheme." Mason addresses those labels and concerns in the interview. Says Mason, "I think the big thing about Groupon is just people had never seen anything grow quite so fast and that made people dig in and be skeptical."