It appears that Amazon is expanding by trying to buy up cool e-commerce companies that have unique and fun cultures that its fans love. I would imagine there are worse strategies out there. We already covered how Amazon bought Zappos, with the company culture playing an important role in the decision-making. Now Amazon has bought Woot (a site, I should admit, that I have a bit of an addiction to). And unlike the lame corporate-speak note that Zappos put out when it was acquired, Woot has handled the announcement in true Woot-like fashion with perhaps the best CEO letter you’ll ever read about an acquisition. Here’s just an excerpt:
Over the next few days, you will probably read headlines that say “Matt Rutledge revealed to be monstrous pseudo-human creation of Jeff Bezos.” You might even see this photo making the rounds. Rest assured that these rumors have nothing to do with our final decision. We think now is the right time to join with Amazon because, quite simply, every company that becomes a subsidiary gets two free downloads until the end of July, and we very much need that new thing with Trent Reznor’s wife on our iPods.
Other than that, we plan to continue to run Woot the way we have always run Woot — with a wall of ideas and a dartboard. From a practical point of view, it will be as if we are simply adding one person to the organizational hierarchy, except that one person will just happen to be a billion-dollar company that could buy and sell each and every one of you like you were office furniture. Nevertheless, don’t worry that our culture will suddenly take a leap forward and become cutting-edge. We’re still going to be the same old bottom-feeders our customers and readers have come to know and love, and each and every one of their pre-written insult macros will still be just as valid in a week, two weeks, or even next year. For Woot, our vision remains the same: somehow earning a living on snarky commentary and junk.
We are excited about doing this for all sorts of reasons. One, our business model is so vague that there’s no way Amazon can possibly change what it is we’re truly doing: preparing the way for the rise of the Lava Men in 2012….
And then there’s this lovely rap video Woot staff put together to explain the acquisition. The video even ends by noting “the preceding video does not represent the view or opinions of Amazon.com. Obviously.” Let’s just say that it’s not your standard bland “hey we’ve been acquired” announcement:
Taking a step back, it’s pretty interesting to see Amazon acquiring companies with such unique cultures and then leaving them alone and letting them act entirely independently. It will be worth watching to see if that lasts (or if it can last). But for now, it’s cool to see.