Groupon’s SVP, Product Jeff Holden is leaving the company, effective March 18, 2014, according to a new SEC filing. Though the exec has been fairly tight-lipped about where he’s heading, TechCrunch has learned that Holden will be relocating from Chicago to work with “an early stage Bay Area company,” according to sources inside Groupon. This confirms Crain’s earlier report that Holden was leaving for an “unnamed tech company.”
Holden joined Groupon in 2011 after his Seattle area startup, Pelago, was acquired. Pelago was best known for its Whrrl product, which was a Foursquare-like, location-based services app that allowed people to check-in to places.
At the time of his hiring, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason praised Holden, saying “Jeff intimately gets consumer buying behavior and the importance of a great user experience, and his team is this awesome combination of data-driven creatives.”
A University of Illinois grad, Holden was also an early hire at Amazon, having worked with Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos at the New York investment-bank D.E. Shaw. At Groupon, he worked alongside several other former Amazon execs on the company’s senior leadership team, including former Amazon.com VP CEO Kal Rama, now Groupon COO, and former Amazon.com finance chief Jason Child, now Groupon CFO. In total, four of Groupon’s eight top execs hail from Amazon.
Holden is the second high-profile hire to leave the company in recent weeks, Crain’s also points out, referring to the departure of HR head and Cisco Systems veteran Brian “Skip” Schipper, who left for Twitter.
As for Groupon, the company celebrated its fifth birthday not too long ago, but still has a tough road ahead. Though daily deals is still Groupon’s mainstay, the company has made progress in shifting its business into a wider marketplace for location-based and mobile commerce. In November, it announced an acquisition of Korea’s Ticket Monster, for $260 million, to build out its mobile commerce operations in Asia, for example. Earlier in 2013, Groupon reported the appointment of Eric Lefkofsky as its CEO, after letting former CEO Andrew Mason go. It also launched Groupon POS (point-of-sale) to target local merchants, and acquired HotelTonight competitor Blink, as well as SideTour to add to its local events businesses.
Groupon’s stock has doubled over the last year, getting up to over $10 per share, but word of Holden’s departure has now sent it tumbling down 8 percent this morning as word got out.