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St. Louis Online Retailer WOOT.com Acquired By Amazon

Categories: Bidness, Tech
woot-sign.jpg
Update 10:35 a.m.: Just got confirmation that Woot will move its St. Louis office -- and all employees -- to Seattle. The move will likely be made this month.

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The paint was barely dry on the walls of Woot.com's new St. Louis office when word spread yesterday afternoon that the online "deal of the day" discount retailer was being acquired by Amazon.

No one in the St. Louis office was authorized to talk about the deal and calls to Woot's headquarters in Texas weren't returned. So it's officially unknown what that means for the company's local operations. (Though the moving trucks parked outside their office yesterday may not be a great sign.)

The official press release says that Woot's Texas operations will remain in place and says nothing about the St. Louis office. Techcrunch reports the deal was worth $110 million in cash. 

Last fall we gave you a glimpse of Woot's brand new office space above Seki Sui on South Grand.

St. Louis has been the creative heart of Woot since 2004 when founder Matt Rutledge asked his brother Dave to build and manage the company's website. Among the local staff of Woot that may or may not be staying in St. Louis is former occasional RFT contributor and man about town Jason Toon. If Amazon does decide to close the local Woot office, it would be a sad day for St. Louis. While we aren't home to many well-known web startups, we could say that we are home to at least part of Woot.

Oh ... and Woot's first deal of the day since the Amazon acquisition? An Amazon Kindle

Woot announced its acquisition in signature fashion -- with a video (below) of a rapping stuffed monkey.


And there is also the letter from Woot's CEO Matt Rutledge, written in typical Woot style:

Date: Weds,  30 June  2010
From: Matt Rutledge (CEO - Woot.com)
To: All Woot Employees
Subject: Woot and Amazon

I know I say this every time I find a picture of an adorable kitten, but please set aside 20 minutes to carefully read this entire email. Today is a big day in Woot history. This morning, I woke up to find Jeff Bezos the Mighty had seized our magic sword. Using the Arthurian model as a corporate structure was something our CFO had warned against from the very beginning, but now that's water under the bridge. What is important is that our company is on the verge of becoming a part of the Amazon.com dynasty. And our plans for Grail.Woot are on indefinite hold.
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. Also, our deal means that Jason Toon will finally be released from that Mexican jail owned by Zappos honcho Tony Hsieh. No, don't lie, Tony, we've seen the paperwork. And we need a powerful ally in case Steve Jobs finally breaks down and comes after us for all our Apple jokes over the years. Don't think of it as a buyout; think of it as NATO!
I will go through each of the above points in more detail later, but first, let me get to the top 5 burning questions that I'm guessing many of you will have.
TOP 5 BURNING QUESTIONS:
Q: F1RST!!!!
A: Okay, that's not a question, but it is a good place to mention that our forums will still be policed by a team of moderators, as before. And also, Woot's previous and always-in-effect privacy policy will still be just as always-in-effect, so don't worry, there are no plans to suddenly give up or merge your forum data.
Q: Is Snapster leaving?
A: Are you kidding? He's out the door about ten seconds after that check clea- that is to say, Snapster will continue as Woot.com CEO, just like before, and the rest of our staff's not going anywhere either. Woot and all our various sites will continue to be an independently operated company full of horrible, useless products and an untalented jerkface writing staff, same as it ever was.
Q: Will the Woot culture change?
A: Amazon is interested in us because they recognize the value of our people, our brand, and our unique style of deep-tissue, toxin-releasing massage. And they don't want to start changing things now. Amazon's hoping our nutty Woot steez continues to grow and develop (and perhaps even rubs off on them a little). They're not looking to have their folks come in and run Woot unless we ask them to, which incidentally you can do by turning off the bathroom lights and saying the word "Kindle" three times; a helpful Amazon employee will appear in the mirror. That said, Amazon clearly knows what they're doing in a lot of areas, so we're geeked about the opportunities to tap into that knowledge and those resources, especially on the technology side. This is about making the Woot brand, culture, and business even stronger than it is today, and we expect that any changes will be for the better or we wouldn't bother with this endless paperwork.
Q: Where can I get one of those vuvuzelas? 
A: Are you even paying attention?
Several months ago, when we were all sitting on Jeff Bezos's bumper drinking orange Mad Dog and trying not to be noticed, we heard a voice in the distance yelling "You kids better not scratch my Mercedes or I'm calling the cops!" We ran. It was later that night when Amazon came by the house and said they liked our style and also wanted to get that money we owed them for messing up the chrome. We like to think that our relationship with Amazon will continue at this level for many, many, many years to come.
But we here at Woot are still a thoughtful company, so, at the end of the day, I watched the sunset, and its golden-hued glory made me think about two questions:
1) Is there really a universal deity?
2) Does such a thing preclude free will or are we humans in control of our own destiny?
After spending a lot of time falling asleep at the library while facing the philosophy books, I determined that the concept of destiny is a construct that allows man a gentle release from facing the terror of his existence, and that a Hyundai full of twenties would pretty much offer the same benefits. And so, I ultimately said YES!
This is definitely an emotional day for me. The feelings I'm experiencing are similar to what I felt in college on graduation day: excitement about getting a check from my folks combined with nausea from a hellacious bender the night before. I remember fondly that time when an RA turned on the lights and yelled "WHO OWNS THESE PANTS?" Except this time, the pants are a company, and the RA is you, and the sixty five hours of community service is a deal that will ensure the Woot.com experience can continue to grow for years and years and years, like a black mold behind the Gold Box. Join us, because together, we can rule the galaxy as father and son. Also, there will be six muffins waiting in the company break room, courtesy of the nice folks at Amazon.com. Welcome to the family!
Matt Rutledge
CEO, Woot
Direct press/media inquiries to  media@woot.com.


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