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Saturday, March 2, 2013

Hello, I Must Be Going

Andrew Mason, founder of the daily deals site Groupon, is a big goof. He was booted last week as chief executive, but didn’t let it cramp his style. Mr. Mason’s resignation letter, which he tweeted under the entirely reasonable notion that it would leak anyway, said he was leaving to spend more time with his family, the age-old alibi of dismissed chiefs everywhere. Then he came clean: “Just kidding â€" I was fired today.”

Mr. Mason added a dose of humor to what many can only hope will be a new kind of corporate goodbye: the honest one. Carol Bartz, a former Yahoo chief, was a pioneer of this approach. “I’ve just been fired,” she told her staff in 2011, a comment that won her more respect than anything else in her brief tenure.

It was inevitable that this trend toward bluntness would arise in the tech world, where failure is seen above all as an opportunity for spiritual growth. But even there, candor is doled out cautiously. It wasn’t much of a secret that Scott Forstall, a topApple executive, was ousted last October, but the company merely said he “will be leaving Apple next year.” Mark Hurd, dismissed from Hewlett-Packard in 2010, said a bit more when he offered that he was resigning because he had “not been living up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity” he had been espousing.

Jonathan Schwartz lost his job as chief of Sun Microsystems in 2010, when Oracle took over Sun. Mr. Schwartz got the word out about his departure via a haiku on Twitter. In some ways, however, Mr. Schwartz adhered to the old traditions: he said he was planning to spend some “long overdue” time with his family. Since he later founded a start-up business devoted to family care, in his case it was probably even true.

The Tweet

Posted on Twitter at 9:36 p.m. on Feb. 3, 2010.

Today’s my last day at Sun. I’ll miss it. Seems only fitting to end on a #haiku. Financial crisis/Stalled too many cu! stomers/C.E.O. no more

The Press Release

A company press release on Aug. 6, 2010.

As the investigation progressed, I realized there were instances in which I did not live up to the standards and principles of trust, respect and integrity that I have espoused at HP and which have guided me throughout my career. After a number of discussions with members of the board, I will move aside and the board will search for new leadership.

The iPad Missive

E-mail sent on Sept. 6, 2011.

To all,
   I am very sad to tell you that I’ve just been fired over the phone by Yahoo’s chairman of the board. It has been my pleasure to work with all of you and I wish you only the best going forward.
                              Sent from my iPad

The Jokey Tell-All
Tweeted, with a link to the site Jottit, on Feb. 28, 2013.

People of Groupon,
  After four and a half intense and wonderful years as C.E.O. of
Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding â€" I was fired today….
  I’m O.K. with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first-ever play through. I am so lucky to have had the opportunity to take the company this far with all of you. I’ll now take some time to decompress (F.Y.I. I’m looking for a good fat camp to lose my Groupon 40, if anyone has a suggestion), and then maybe I’ll figure out how to channel this experience into something productive.