Working at Groupon doesn't offer the fun or money it once promised, so it's no surprise that its sales people are looking for new jobs, as The Wall Street Journal's Shira Ovide reports. The paper reports that other companies are seeing hundreds of résumés from Groupon sales reps looking to bail on their current jobs. So where did all the fun go?
Back in the early days, the daily deals site was a plush place to work. In 2009 and 2010, before Groupon went public (and before things went south) an entry level 9-5 sales person could earn six figures — hours and dollars most worker bees (let alone just-out-of-college worker bees) wouldn't know how to imagine. Plus, goofy CEO Andrew Mason made sure the work environment involved "frivolous fun," as the Los Angeles Times's Wailin Wong described it. But with Groupon's growth into Big Public Companyland, sales people can no longer get the money or the laughs they once could.
Those six-figure salaries were enabled by high volume sales that are no longer a norm at Groupon. These early workers could boost their modest base pay by selling thousands of deals in big cities with huge populations. "Their base was thirty something [thousand dollars per year], [but] they were making a ton of money, because of cities like Chicago or New York where Groupon thought they'd sell 200 Groupons in a week and they were actually selling 2,000 or 20,000," an anonymous early employee told Business Insider's Nicholas Carlson. But as Groupon has expanded to other cities, most people didn't see these kinds of numbers. "It was kind of first-come first-serve, so no sales rep was going to be put on Boise, there was no Boise — they were all on important cities. So their commission was huge because the volumes were so much higher than what Groupon ever anticipated," that same employee added. The average sales rep now makes somewhere between $35,000 and $85,000, with the average take away annual pay coming in at $59,875, according to employee reviews on Glassdoor. That's not bad. But it's not close to six figures.
Of course, some people value other things besides money when it comes to jobs. Unfortunately, Groupon's fun factor has diminished, too. Following its IPO, the company has gotten more serious, per Bloomberg Bussinessweek's Lauren Etter and Douglas MacMillan, who describe the once practical joke-filled place as "more subdued." Before going public, Groupon's Chicago's headquarters had a room called Michael's Room, which was a big inside joke about a non-existent "monstrous manchild." It was also the type of place where the CEO attempted to play a practical joke on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. That kind of stuff doesn't happen as much anymore. "You’ve seen the seriousness level notch up, across the board," Groupon Vice President Rich Williams told Etter and MacMillan. (The light in Michael's Room was off when Etter and MacMillan visited.) Without the jokes, a job at Groupon is just another boring sales position. "The work is very repetitive, the quotas you have to meet are a bit zombifying and after a few months you will probably want a different job," wrote one reviewer on Glassdoor.
Grouponers also say there isn't much room for growth within the company and it only looks to get worse. As 45 percent of the company's positions are in sales, there aren't many opportunities for promotion, says Ovide. And, the job security isn't that great either. Last October, just before going public, the company let go of its bottom 10 percent of sales performers. Since its IPO, the company is under more pressure to tighten its financials, as its performance numbers haven't been great. The stock is currently trading at $7.72, down around 70 percent from its original $20 a share IPO price last November. The company will report earnings this week, giving a better picture of how it's doing. Given the choice, workers don't want to stay on that steadily sinking ship.
Groupon hasn't confirmed the mass exodus. Ovide gets her information from Mike Silagadze, chief executive of education-software firm Top Hat Monocle Inc., who says he has seen hundreds of apps from Groupon employees. "Their best people are starting to leave," he told her, adding that he interviews a couple of the daily deals people a day. To that, all Groupon has said is that it "continues to professionalize everything it does, from sales, to process, to organization, to technology," a spokesperson told Ovide, which doesn't sound like a denial. At least some sales people have already left, with eight of Top Hat Monocle's 25 people coming from Groupon. We can see why others would follow.