Mobile transactions are also crucial. Nearly 50 percent of Groupon's North American sales were conducted on a mobile device in June, compared with 30 percent during the same month last year. Groupon is generating less business from its daily email blasts.
"We're trying to convey this basic message, which is, we want Groupon to be the place you start with when you want to buy anything, anywhere, any time," Lefkofsky said. "We want you checking Groupon first. You might find a great deal on something you're going to buy anyway."
This evolution is in the early stages, but Lefkofsky said he and Leonsis have injected a sharper sense of focus into Groupon.
"I have been able to help get rid of a lot of the noise and a lot of the distraction that was keeping an unbelievably talented team from doing their very best work," he said. "And that's probably the single biggest difference. We're now very focused on doing a few things very right, instead of focused on doing a lot of things OK. Maybe it's just the maturity of the team or maybe it's a certain amount of focus I bring -- whatever the root cause of it, it's working."
Mason's tenure, while a time of explosive growth, was marred by controversy and doomsday predictions about the company's future. Groupon suffered several setbacks in the prelude to its November 2011 IPO, and the stock price dropped rapidly after its debut. In late February, Mason left the company.
Lefkofsky has founded several Chicago-based technology companies and also created venture capital firm Lightbank with his longtime business partner, Brad Keywell. His history with Groupon dates to when the company was The Point, a startup founded by Mason that helped gather support for petitions and civic endeavors.
Lefkofsky pushed Mason to find a way to make money on his idea, and the pursuit of a revenue model led to the creation of the daily deals juggernaut.
Lefkofsky has served variously as Groupon's acting chief financial officer, acting chief operating officer and acting general counsel. Until February, when Mason departed, Lefkofsky had been away from Groupon's day-to-day operations for almost a year.
This year, Lefkofsky resigned from 13 boards to focus on Groupon. He remained on the board of MediaOcean, an advertising technology firm he co-founded with Keywell.
"It's the one board I stayed on," Lefkofsky said. "I'm still listed as a managing director at Lightbank because it's basically all of our money. It's kind of hard not to be that. But I asked them to take it off the website because it doesn't make any sense. I don't have any involvement with Lightbank, other than every once in a while I might go to a meeting. But basically, I'm completely disconnected from Lightbank and those companies because I'm 100 percent committed here."
According to a Wednesday regulatory filing, Lefkofsky's annual base salary at Groupon will be $1 and he will be eligible for an annual bonus of $500,000, prorated for this year. He also received 800,000 restricted stock units, of which half will vest in a year and 12.5 percent will vest at the end of each quarter after that.
Lefkofsky has experience as CEO, having held that position at InnerWorkings and sharing the role with Keywell at Echo Global Logistics. He said he doesn't think he will have outsize influence at Groupon.
"Any CEO is beholden to what the board wants to do," he said. "I'm one voice on the board. ... As a founder and the current CEO, I'm an important voice. There's no question about it. Ted's an important voice. But the board acts independently."
Lefkofsky declined to answer directly whether he has spoken with Mason since the founding CEO's ouster, but he spoke warmly of his "composure and grace" under tough circumstances.
"All of us felt a tremendous amount of tension and stress because the company was constantly in the media and the stock was going down," he said, adding: "There was just a lot of pressure."
(c)2013 the Chicago Tribune
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