Groupon President/COO Rob Solomon to depart

Faith Merino · March 24, 2011 · Short URL:

Leaving because the company made him dress up in Lederhosen?

It's official: Rob Solomon, President and COO of Groupon, is leaving the windy city (why is Chicago called the windy city?) to return to California. Reports of Solomon's departure emerged earlier this week, but today Groupon has confirmed the news and said that Solomon will continue to work with Groupon for the next several months to help the company transition the person who will become his replacement. He has also pointed out in interviews that his departure has nothing to do with problems at the company or executive headbutting. He discussed the move with CEO Andrew Mason, who agreed that the company needs a different type of operator who can take the company to the next level.

Solomon explained in an interview that the company has simply grown too big for his tastes and he believes it needs someone else more attuned to running a large company to see it through the next year (and its imminent IPO?). 

When Solomon joined the team one year ago, Groupon had a total of 200 employees. Today, it has 6,000. It's no surprise that that kind of monstrous growth would intimidate a chief of operations, especially after only one year on the job. As Solomon pointed out, that kind of growth is what you would typically see in five years at the top Internet companies.

Such is the sad downside of hyper-growth. Between 2009 and 2010 alone, Groupon's subscriber base grew 2,500% from two million to 50 million. Today, the company has over 70 million subscribers. Additionally, its headcount has doubled in three months to 6,000, up from 3,000 in December, and these days the company is serving up no less than 950 deals per day around the world. 

Three months ago, Andrew Mason and the Groupon team walked away from a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google, but with more than $700 million in annual revenues, can anyone blame them? Now the company is reportedly considering an IPO at a $25 billion valuation

But the company isn't just expanding--it's also innovating. Last week the company announced the upcoming release of Groupon Now, a mobile app that will deliver deals in real-time based on location. The app is sure to please merchants, who will be able to drive traffic by the hour rather than fixed terms of several months. And the simplicity is bound to please consumers--the app features two buttons: "I'm bored" and "I'm hungry." So in essence, the company is a smoldering asteroid of hypergrowth and innovation. There are only two ways to cope with such rapid evolution: A) Drugs, or B) Lederhosen.

Prior to joining Groupon, Solomon, a UC Berkeley graduate, was a Partner at Technology Crossover Ventures, which he joined in 2008. He is also the former CEO of Sidestep, a travel search site that was bought by in 2007, creating the fifth largest Web-based travel brand in the world. 

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