Groupon Must Avoid Taking 'Stupid Risks,' CEO Says

Groupon Inc. CEO Andrew Mason told the company's employees Wednesday that the daily-deals site needs to grow up -- right after he apologized for drinking too much beer.

In a wide-ranging town hall meeting with employees that lasted about an hour Wednesday, the 31-year-old CEO at times swigged from a beer bottle while he set corporate priorities for the next six months, including beefing up financial controls and hiring more finance staff. Mason also discussed how the Chicago company doesn't "have any margin for error."

"We're still this toddler in a grown man's body in many ways," Mason said during the closed-door employee meeting, which The Wall Street Journal observed via webcast. At one point during the address, Mason's voice broke and he said, "Sorry, too much beer."

A Groupon spokesman said the meeting was part of a series of informal weekly town halls, where employees have a chance to ask questions of executives. Beer is available for everyone in the room, said the spokesman, who declined to elaborate on Mason's comments during the session.

Mason's comments come as Groupon, which went public in November, is trying to steady the ship. The web company has been under pressure following a revision to its quarterly financial results last month, when Groupon said it underestimated the amount of customer refund requests for its coupon-like offers and disclosed a "material weakness" in its internal controls. Some investors also have questioned whether Mason is experienced and mature enough to be at the helm of a multibillion-dollar public company. The revision prompted an examination from the Securities and Exchange Commission.