Today in Tech: Groupon CEO fights to keep his job

January 14, 2013, 10:30 AM UTC

Also: RSS co-founder dies at 26; how Samsung became the largest tech company in the world. 

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason.

Groupon CEO Andrew Mason fights to keep his job [BLOOMBERG BUSINESSWEEK]

Groupon will turn a $6.68 million profit in 2012, according to average analyst estimates, after a loss of $279.4 million in 2011. It has $1.2 billion in cash. Yet the clock is ticking for Mason. Late last year, Eric Lefkofsky, Groupon’s executive chairman and largest shareholder, approached an outside adviser to discuss replacing the CEO, says a person familiar with the conversation who asked not to be named because it was private. Lefkofsky and his business partner Brad Keywell, along with Mason, control stock with extra voting power as part of Groupon’s governance structure. If Lefkofsky and Keywell did want to oust Mason, it would be difficult to stop them. Mason and Lefkofsky did not respond to requests for comment.

Aaron Swartz, precocious programmer and Internet activist, dies at 26 [THE NEW YORK TIMES]

In 2007, Mr. Swartz wrote about his struggle with depression, distinguishing it from the emotion of sadness. “Go outside and get some fresh air or cuddle with a loved one and you don’t feel any better, only more upset at being unable to feel the joy that everyone else seems to feel. Everything gets colored by the sadness.” When the condition gets worse, he wrote, “you feel as if streaks of pain are running through your head, you thrash your body, you search for some escape but find none. And this is one of the more moderate forms.” Earlier that year, he gave a talk in which he described having had suicidal thoughts during a low period in his career.

The genius of Samsung [SLATE]

Samsung is having a moment, and every one of its rivals would be wise to visit its enormous booth at CES this week to keep an eye on the Korean tech juggernaut. Last week, Techcrunch’s MG Siegler crowned Samsung the “fifth horseman”—the only worthy rival to Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google, the foursome that dominates the world’s tech markets. Samsung earns that spot in part because of its fearsome stats: It is the world’s largest tech company by revenue, and in 2012 it became the world’s leading smartphone maker. According to the market research firm Canalys, Samsung’s smartphone market share in the third quarter last year beat that of Apple, Sony, HTC, and Research in Motion combined. It still lags behind Apple in profit—Apple sells fewer iPhones but earns more money doing so—but Samsung’s smartphone proceeds have doubled in the past year, so it may well one day catch its rival.

Hacking the hyper inked heart [THE WALL STREET JOURNAL]

Posing as these men, I spent a month using JDate. I interacted with 96 women, cataloging how they behaved and presented themselves online and scraping data from their profiles (such as the language they used or the number of hours they waited before emailing back one of my profiles). Wanting to learn everything I could about my competition, I kept a detailed database, and I recorded which female profiles were popular. While JDate doesn’t publicly release its algorithms, at the time of my experiment I observed that the more popular profiles come up higher in search results, allowing one to get a quick-and-dirty ranking of who’s hot (or not). I quickly realized that the popular women seemed to know something I didn’t; they were clearly attracting the sort of smart, attractive professionals who had been ignoring my profile. Being hypercompetitive, I wasn’t about to let some bubblegum-popping blonde steal the neurotic Jewish doctor of my mother’s dreams.

Don’t miss the latest tech news. Sign up now to get Today in Tech emailed every morning.