Eric Lefkofsky’s First Interview As Groupon’s CEO

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February 28th, 2013 was the day Andrew Mason was fired as Groupon CEO. At that time present CEO Eric Lefkofsky was enjoying a two month sabbatical in South-East Asia. He has been keeping himself away from any active involvement in Groupon.

Today, Eric Lefkofsky speaks for the first time as Groupon’s new CEO. The chairman and cofounder of the beleaguered company defends daily deals, opens up about its problems, and tries to redefine the service as a next-generation Costco.

He talks to Elizabeth Spiers of Fast Company struggling to find the right metaphor to describe the four-year old company’s struggles in the last 18 months since going public. “You have a company that’s four years old, right?” he says. “It’s a like a toddler in many ways–and yet it’s got 11,000 employees in 48 countries, so it’s a big global company and…”

He changes his mind about the toddler analogy.

“It’s like flying a plane,” he says, “and you’re trying to find the right altitude and you’re doing it with a four-year-old company and four-year-old processes and four-year-old systems.”

About Mason’s decision to leave or him being fired, whatever the case, this is what Lefkofsky had to say. “In Andrew’s letter to the employees when he notified people that he was leaving, he accepted responsibility,” he tells. “You could say, ‘Well everyone was here and everyone’s to blame including the senior manager, the board, whatever.’ But at the end of the day, the CEO is the CEO. And he makes those tough calls. If they go well, you’re a hero, and if they don’t go well, you’re accountable.”

Read the full interview at Fast Company.