Groupon shakes up board with Starbucks CEO

Daily deals site Groupon announced some changes to its board of directors today, with Starbucks chief executive Howard Schultz joining and three of the eight current members stepping down.

Late last year, Groupon turned down a $6 billion offer from Google and subsequently raised a massive $950 million round. The company needs to continue its rapid growth if that move is going to pay off for investors, and the board is probably hoping Schultz’s experience can help with that, especially as the company faces competition from hordes of similar sites.

Co-founder and chief executive Andrew Mason told VentureWire that Schultz was “the top choice” when the board starting talking about new members last year, saying, “Let’s think really big about this company. If we could have anyone on this board in the world, who would we have?”

Meanwhile, R. R. Donnelly CEO John Walter, New Enterprise Associates partner Harry Weller, and 37Signals founder Jason Fried are all stepping down. (Or rather, Mason says they stepped down following the latest financing.) So the board now consists of Schultz, the company’s three founders, Peter Barris from investor NEA, Kevin Efrusy from investor Accel Partners, and AOL vice chairman emeritus Ted Leonsis. The company says it’s leaving the remaining seats open for “future additions.”

Schultz’s venture firm Maveron just invested in Groupon as well — not as part of the recent round but by purchasing shares from existing investors and employees. When asked for more details about the deal, Mason reportedly responded, “It’s not news. It’s not interesting.”


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