These people are likely contenders to be Groupon’s next CEO

March 4, 2013
March 4, 2013

Online deals site Groupon has to find itself a new CEO after firing Andrew Mason last week. And it will probably look for someone who is well versed in both overseas operations to manage (and probably cut) Groupon’s sprawling international team, and in e-commerce, to focus on the kind of business that probably lies in Groupon’s future.

While demand has slowed for the daily deals for which Groupon is best known, its e-commerce side, Groupon Goods, has been growing fast, even if it is still far behind behemoths like Amazon. Started in 2011, Groupon Goods is on track to post about $2 billion in annual revenue, the company said recently. Instead of being an everything to everyone like Amazon, Groupon Goods focuses on marked-down goods from various companies like Dell, Juicy Couture and Nine West shoes.

Groupon will also probably look for a (relative) elder, to contrast with Mason’s characteristic—but often criticized—kookiness. Facebook, to handle its transition to a more mature firm, found Sheryl Sandberg, who is as comfortable on Capitol Hill and Wall Steet as she is in Silicon Valley. Groupon will likely look for a similar, respectable figure.

Here are possible candidates for Groupon’s CEO, according to analysts and tech industry experts.

Kal Raman: The current COO of Groupon is seen as the strongest internal contender, as he was brought on to revamp Groupon’s overseas business and has experience at eBay and Amazon. He was promoted to COO last November. But people familiar with the matter said Groupon is focusing more on outside candidates.

Jeff Jordan: The former CEO of OpenTable is now at venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. Jordan, who also worked for eBay and PayPal, said he was done scratching the itch of running an Internet company when he left OpenTable in 2011. But Groupon may be an intriguing challenge. However, the firm would likely have to pay up to match what Jordan can get at Andreessen, which was an early backer of Groupon.

Jason Kilar: He worked at Amazon for nearly a decade and then became head of video-streaming firm Hulu, which he left in January. Although Hulu had its naysayers, Kilar is credited with finding ways to get the media giants of the world to work together to offer content that made Hulu work. He was also a contender to be CEO of Yahoo, but he didn’t want to be considered for the post, which went to Marissa Mayer.

Current Amazon executives: People like Jeffrey Blackburn, senior vice president of business development at Amazon, or Sebastian Gunningham, senior vice president of seller services, could be possibilities. Amazon alumni are obvious people to look at given Groupon’s struggles and where its future lies.

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