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Groupon CEO’s Farewell Letter Battletoads Reference Explained

Much has been written about former Groupon CEO Andrew Mason’s farewell letter to the company. The man was fired from the company he helped found, and that’s never something that lends itself to a cheerful departure. Even so, his parting shot comes off as rather amiable. Even better? Mason made a hilariously obscure reference to the Battletoads video game. He specifically calls out one level, but most folks don’t seem to understand the implications of this.

Here’s the relevant text from Mason’s farewell:

For those who are concerned about me, please don’t be – I love Groupon, and I’m terribly proud of what we’ve created. I’m OK with having failed at this part of the journey. If Groupon was Battletoads, it would be like I made it all the way to the Terra Tubes without dying on my first ever play through.

Terra Tubes is the 9th level of the original Battletoads video game, which means that Mason’s implying that he made it through the first eight levels of the Battletoads version of Groupon. That’s quite a feat. Here’s the Terra Tubes level he’s talking about:

Wired’s post on the subject is pretty thorough. They note that the original Battletoads game for the Nintendo Entertainment System’s notorious for its difficulty, and the specific level mentioned by Mason is particularly hard. Wired essentially calls it the hardest level, but there’s one that’s even more notorious.

That would be the 3rd stage in the game: Turbo Tunnel. If you’ve ever heard anyone cursing the game, chances are they were cursing this level. It’s… well, see the the horrifying reality that is stage three for yourself:

Yeah. Mason’s basically saying he made it past this only to “die” much further along. That’s really and truly an impressive accomplishment. Groupon’s been around for a little over four years, and he’s managed to ride it out until now. We’d say the comparison is pretty apt all things considered.

(via Wired, Business Insider, image via The DEMO Conference)

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