Groupon's long journey from flailing startup to multi-billion-dollar Wall Street obsession has played out like an opera, with subplots involving orgiastic young sales reps, brutal German managers, a puppet-master chairman, and amazing levels of greed. Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson went behind the scenes, talked to people in the know, and filed the sensational report that appears below.
What a basketcase: Groupon has slashed its proposed valuation to $12 billion from $30 billion as it ramps up for an initial public offering. So if you're in the market for a technically insolvent online discounter with shady accounting, now is the time to buy! Goldman Sachs is involved, so you just know it's a good deal.
There's something charming about Andrew Mason's goofiness. "I feel like clout is something that builds up on your teeth," the Groupon CEO once told Today in response to a question about his influence. But with two top lieutenants out the door in as many weeks, you have to wonder if the antics are starting to grate.