Is this the kind of role model a company needs? Groupon CEO Andrew Mason told company employees during a town hall meeting Wednesday that the daily deal site needs to grow up -- right after apologizing for drinking too much beer during the meeting.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the 31-year-old CEO said the company doesn't "have any margin for error," while at times swigging from a beer bottle as he outlined the corporate goals for the next six months.
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At one point during the meeting, Mason's voice broke, prompting him to apologize: "Sorry, too much beer."
The town hall meeting, available via webcast, is a weekly initiative by Groupon in which employees have the chance to ask questions of company executives. The meetings are informal to the point that beer is available for everyone in the room, says a Groupon spokesperson.
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Among the corporate priorities Mason outlined were increasing financial controls and hiring more finance staff. Groupon has come under heavy scrutiny recently, with the Securities and Exchange Commission investigating the company's restatement of its fourth-quarter results. The restatement was apparently driven by higher-than-anticipated refund rates -- which forced Groupon to disclose the company had not allocated enough money for customer refunds.
While Groupon is part of the top 10 internet IPOs of the last 10 years, news of the SEC investigation caused its stock price to plummet to $15.27. At the time of writing, its price currently stands at $11.95 -- well below its IPO offering of $20.00. The Chicago-based company went public just six months ago.
At the meeting, Mason said that Groupon's financial revision and its current outlook is "the latest in a string of just us making an example of how bad we are at being a public company." He acknowledged that while the company had tried to grow quickly to beat out other daily-deal competitors, it now needs to shift its focus -- in other words, slow down, so that it can focus on "quality and control" and "not taking stupid risks."
However, Mason's beer-induced speech while talking about the company's need to improve is not just ironic -- it also draws attention to what some worry is an immaturity to be CEO of a multi-billion dollar company.
Mason has addressed his critics, however, and told the Wall Street Journal in January that he's going to continue to "work [his] butt off to add value for shareholders."
"I got the company this far. To the degree I was weird, I was weird before we were a public company and managed to get it worth whatever it's worth," he said.
Still, some of Mason's comments were firm on Wednesday. "We're still this toddler in a grown man's body in many ways," Mason said during the meeting. "We have to get good at this."
Do you think Groupon needs to grow up? Should beer be freely available in a startup environment? Sound off in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.