Gini Dietrich

Groupon IPO In Jeopardy As They Violate SEC Rules

By: Gini Dietrich | August 31, 2011 | 

On the radio yesterday, they did an interview with Daniel Kibblesmith, a 27-year-old comedy writer for Groupon.

Rumor has it he’s one of Chicago’s most eligible bachelors.

And, apparently last night, he was the guy date on The Millionaire Matchmaker. I’ve never seen the show, but I’ve heard the guys who are typically on there are douchebags.

But that’s neither here nor there.

Because, at the same time the RedEye was calling Kibblesmith most eligible bachelor (five days ago), Andrew Mason was firing off a memo to his staff saying everything the media is saying about their impending IPO is fine. He countered every point, including janky accounting practices and whether or not they’re running low on cash, which is all fine and dandy.

But the email made its way into the media stream.

During the period that they are required to be quiet as they approach their IPO.

The email likely has violated the SEC rules that a company must not release anything during the period leading up to the initial public offering. This is to prevent pump and dumb scams or insider trading on the stock market.

But the reason I’m writing about it today is because, right before that email was sent, Bradford Williams, the vice president of global communications at Groupon, quit. And the story in BusinessInsider makes it sound as though Mason wouldn’t listen to counsel from Williams and just did what he wanted anyway.

So let’s review:

  • Six days ago, the RedEye calls a Groupon executive a most eligible bachelor.
  • Six day ago, Andrew Mason fires off an email to his team that is leaked to the media.
  • Yesterday morning, Kibblesmith appears on Chicago radio, doing interviews about his show’s appearance and his role at Groupon.
  • Last night, Chicago’s most eligible bachelor appeared on The Millionaire Matchmaker.
  • Last night, BusinessInsider breaks the news that Williams quit…most likely a week ago, before all of this happened.

We talk a lot here about what we would have done if we were counseling News Corp. or Kenneth Cole or Tiger Woods. But, finally, a PR professional got it right.

Bravo, Williams, for standing up for what you believe in, knowing the SEC rules around the dark period, and telling your boss where to stick it when he doesn’t listen to your counsel…because you were right.

Oh, and P.S., the SEC has a history of pulling a company’s IPO for pulling stunts like this. Groupon, you’ve been warned. You were stupid to walk away from the Google $6B offering. Don’t be stupid again.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!