If you got fired, would you tweet about it?
Yesterday afternoon, Andrew Mason, founder and CEO of Groupon, tweeted a letter to his employees that he was fired as the head of the company. Groupon has been under scrutiny lately due to falling stock prices and meager results, and just yesterday released a quarterly statement outlining its poor performance.
Mason has publicly discussed the possibility of his removal, and his letter indicates that he was not surprised about being let go. Until now, CEO departures at public companies have been announced through a canned statement that gives little insight into the back story.
“This is likely the first Twitter response from a CEO regarding his removal,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “Most CEOs leave their posts quietly without revealing the true nature of the departure. However, Mason was known for being outspoken leader and not one to shy away from the spotlight.”
To me, this the latest example of the new reality. As individuals we can't expect privacy and companies can't expect it either. Look how quickly Yahoo's internal HR memo about recalling its remote workers went public last week.
"Today, we’re in a public era," Challenger "Internal memos are not private anymore, nothing much is private anymore, everything is fair game."
Challenger believes that Mason, a tech savvy guy, saw an opportunity to use a public platform to tell his side of the story in his own words. The key is his letter wasn't bitter or emotional and he used it to accept responsibility for what had gone wrong. He controlled the message. Challenger believes others may follow his lead: "I think we may see them putting out something simple or minimal." He urges caution to anyone thinking of putting details of workplace happenings out on social media: "You don't want your dirty laundry aired or to come across in way you will regret later."
Will other CEOs turn to social media to discuss succession changes? Should they? Last year, 45 CEOs were removed/ousted. You can bet there are plenty more removals to come. I think this is just the beginning of graceful and not-so-graceful exits aired over social media.
How do you think the new era of viral information sharing is affecting corporate and individual behavior? Do you think Mason handled his departure well?