Over a year after announcing a shift in focus to Lightbank, Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky has permanently taken the seat left empty since Andrew Mason left in late February. During that time, Lefkofsky shared CEO duties with new Chairman of the Board, Ted Leonsis.
"The Board is encouraged by Groupon's performance under Eric's leadership, and we're pleased that he has agreed to lead the company through this important stage of its evolution," said Leonsis in a statement.
The timing for this announcement was fortuitous, as it accompanied Groupon’s Q2 earnings report, which revealed 7% growth in revenue compared to the previous year. Following news of Lefkofsky’s appointment, Groupon shares rose nearly 11% in after-hours trading, according to Forbes.
Investors aren’t the only ones with high hopes for a new era in Groupon history. Lefkofsky himself told LA Times reporters that he plans to remain CEO for “a few years,” until the company transitions from a daily deals site to a full-fledged ecommerce destination.
“We can’t just serve our customers, we need to build a marketplace that serves the needs of both our customers and our merchants,” he said, according to VentureBeat. “They should think of us as a trusted partner.”
Some in the media have speculated that Lefkofsky’s may not be the right person for the job. With Groupon’s stock hovering below $10—less than half its value when the company went public in November 2011—there is much ground to be recovered. Cautious spectators have been writing that Lefkofsky’s ties to Groupon are too close and too tangled. Still, the 43-year-old Lefkofsky’s long and personal relationship with Groupon may give him a vantage point that could make him the perfect person to guide the company in this time of transition. Whether his attempt will be successful is yet to be seen, but some are taking heart in the company’s recent performance.
“Groupon is clearly moving in the right direction, but the question now is how fast they can grow,” said Aaron Kessler, a Raymond James analyst, according to the Wall Street Journal. “The business seems to be at least stabilizing.”
As so many entrepreneurs can attest, a startup’s rise to success is often dotted with challenges and setbacks along the way. For most, it takes years of hard work and iterations to reach the summit. Groupon is just another company on that path—and one whose recent moves should help it climb upward.
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