Songs of Commerce

In 2009, Andrew Mason, the founder and, until recently, the C.E.O. of the Chicago-based daily-deals site Groupon, was chosen as one of Crain’s “40 Under Forty.” He sat for a video interview wearing an oversized dinner jacket and a gray waistcoat—head shaved, complexion splotchy, grin goofy—and used the time to talk about how his recent weight gain relieved him of the need to be self-conscious about further weight gain. At that point, Groupon, a collective-buying platform that hires comedy writers to pitch discounted local services to subscribers, had a hundred employees and was operating in thirty-