“One of the things we’ve seen from all our data crunching is that G.P.A.’s are worthless as a criteria for hiring, and test scores are worthless — no correlation at all except for brand-new college grads, where there’s a slight correlation. Google famously used to ask everyone for a transcript and G.P.A.’s and test scores, but we don’t anymore, unless you’re just a few years out of school. We found that they don’t predict anything.”—
- Lazlo Block, senior vice president of people operations at Google In
(This is for Groupon employees, but I’m posting it publicly since it will leak anyway)
People of Groupon,
After four and a half intense and wonderful years as CEO of Groupon, I’ve decided that I’d like to spend more time with my family. Just kidding - I was fired today. If you’re wondering why… you haven’t been paying attention. From controversial metrics in our S1 to our material weakness to two quarters of missing our own expectations and a stock price that’s hovering around one quarter of our listing price, the events of the last year and a half speak for themselves. As CEO, I am accountable.
You are doing amazing things at Groupon, and you deserve the outside world to give you a second chance. I’m getting in the way of that. A fresh CEO earns you that chance. The board is aligned behind the strategy we’ve shared over the last few months, and I’ve never seen you working together more effectively as a global company - it’s time to give Groupon a relief valve from the public noise.
For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be - I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK 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 (FYI 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.
If there’s one piece of wisdom that this simple pilgrim would like to impart upon you: have the courage to start with the customer. My biggest regrets are the moments that I let a lack of data override my intuition on what’s best for our customers. This leadership change gives you some breathing room to break bad habits and deliver sustainable customer happiness - don’t waste the opportunity!
“Just get to lunch,” I muttered to myself.
It was the only way I could control my anxiety. In 1998, I’d made it through Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL, or BUD/S, by focusing on just making it to the next meal. It didn’t matter if I couldn’t feel my arms as we hoisted logs over our heads or if the cold surf soaked me to the core. It wasn’t going to last forever. There is a saying: “How do you eat an elephant?” The answer is simple: “One bite at a time.” Only my bites were separated by meals: Make it to breakfast, train hard until lunch, and focus until dinner. Repeat.”—Owen, Mark; Maurer, Kevin (2012-09-04). No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama Bin Laden (Kindle Locations 217-221). Penguin Group. Kindle Edition.
In my brief time in the healthcare industry, one thing I’ve noticed is that doctors treat by anecdote and not by data. They make treatment decisions for the patient sitting in front of them based on something that happened to a patient they treated in the past and their perceived outcome of that…
How to Solve Online Identify Fraud (via Start-up Nation)
Visa and the banks it partnered with together had tens of thousands of people working to beat fraud. PayPal had two thousand, including some fifty of their best PhD engineers, trying to stay ahead of the crooks. And this kid was talking about “good guys and bad guys,” as if he were the first to discover the problem.
“Sounds good,” Thompson said, not without restraint. “How do you do that?”
“Good people leave traces of themselves on the Internet—digital footprints—because they have nothing to hide,” Shvat continued in his accented English. “Bad people don’t, because they try to hide themselves. All we do is look for footprints. If you can find them, you can minimize risk to an acceptable level and underwrite it. It really is that simple.”
Thompson was beginning to think that this guy with the strange name had flown in not from a different country but rather a different planet. Didn’t he know that fighting fraud is a painstaking process of checking backgrounds, wading through credit histories, building sophisticated algorithms to determine trustworthiness? You wouldn’t walk into NASA and say, “Why build all those fancy spaceships when all you need is a slingshot?”
Still, out of respect for Benchmark, Thompson thought he’d indulge Shaked for a few more minutes. “So where did you learn how to do this?” he asked. “Hunting down terrorists,” Shaked said matter-of-factly. His unit in the army had been tasked with helping to catch terrorists by tracking their online activities. Terrorists move money through the Web with fictitious identities. Shvat’s job was to find them online.
Senor, Dan; Singer, Saul (2011-09-07). Start-up Nation: The Story of Israel’s Economic Miracle (p. 25). Hachette Book Group. Kindle Edition.
“There is something like $1 trillion in student debt. A cynical view is that that represents $1 trillion worth of lies told about the value of higher education." - Peter Thiel”—A Conversation with Peter Thiel
All too often (and I find myself doing this too), due to the plethora of startups being created people tend to quickly dismiss many of them solely based on the current idea without even paying consideration to the entrepreneur or where it could go. The conversation often goes like this, with the…
"I am sure some of you noticed, but I am equally sure that some of you slept through it, but last nights ending to one of our fantasy contests was unbelievable. Not only did the Bears beat the hated Eagles, but the contest between Bloody and 27 Strokes went down to the last play of the game. It even has an element of controversy as of this moment. At the 2 minute mark left in the game, Strokes was up by 0.02 points. BM had Forte and Strokes had D. Jackson. If you watched the game when the Bears got the ball back with less than 2 minutes left and up 6, rather than just taking a knee they gave the ball to Forte twice which got him .9 points. That put Bm up by less than 0.70 points. The Eagles got the ball back with 3 seconds left and tried to do the "hook and ladder"play. The pass to D. Jackson would have gotten Strokes .5 for the reception and at least another .7 for the yards which would have given Strokes another 1.2 points and enough to overtake BM. But Jackson dropped the pass and the game was over. BM wins by 0.7 points.
Now for the controversy. When looking at the stats I noticed that Jackson was deducted 2 points for a fumble. That put Strokes the 0.7 behind. Without the 2 point deduction Strokes wins by 1.3 points. But the fumble occurred during a punt return for Jackson, not on an offensive play. If special teams do not count in yards or touchdowns for players, how can it count for fumbles. I had to check with CBS to get a ruling and they provided one that Strokes will not be happy with. If you want to see the written opinion, you can go to HELP and see the answer. Because the NFL does not differentiate between offense and special teams, all fumbles count in the official stats. All CBS fantasy settings are automatically set not to include touchdowns or yards for special teams players unless otherwise noted by each league. However, the fumbles do count automatically against the player on special teams, unless specifically noted by the league rules. Since it was never changed under our rules the computer system counted the fumble as a 2 point deduction to Strokes.
If you guys want to change that retroactively I can do so, but I will not do it unless two thirds (7 yes votes) of the teams votes to change the rule retroactively. If you do not vote than it will be counted as a NO. Please let me know within the next 24 hours if you want to change the rule retroactively. You can also let me know if you want to change the rule only prospectively.”
“The ancients were fully aware of this upside-without-downside asymmetry, and they built simple rules in response. Nearly 4,000 years ago, Hammurabi’s code specified this: “If a builder builds a house for a man and does not make its construction firm, and the house which he has built collapses and causes the death of the owner of the house, that builder shall be put to death.”—End Bonuses for Bankers via NYTimes.
“Hey.. The victory’s found in truth,
like innocence found in youth
Self defeat is your own dispute
and man you put yourself in a ya own shoeses Either you’re winning or losing
don’t you get it confused
Tay you starring in a ya own movie
playing of a role you choose so
Stand up and fight if you know say you’re right and no you won’t ever fail
Tipping the scale and the wind shall prevail and the boat shall forever sail
(hey) There ain’t no stopping or cruising
even when you’re battered and bruised
Hold gun all di sprinklers and he tell him bust my gat tougher than Zeus”—Damian Marley, Strong Will Continue - Distant Relatives