Online retailer Woot has built up a huge and passionate fanbase like few other retailers ever could. The site started out by selling one item per day at a steep discount, often some sort of electronic gadget. (Today’s Woot item is a current-gen 8GB iPod Nano, the one with the video camera, for $100.) The company later expanded to a few other sites, including Shirt. Woot (which sells $10 American Apparel shirts with user-submitted designs), Wine.Woot (which sells fancypants wine), Kids.Woot (kids’ stuff), and Sellout.Woot (sort of a forum of many different deals on other sites).
Each new item is accompanied by a hilarious vignette about it–Woot might be the only retailer to employ full-time writers, and it’s worth it. Even if you have no interest in the product being sold that day, you’ll sit and read the write-up.
Woot announced today, in typical cheeky fashion, that they’ve been acquired by Amazon. TechCrunch hears the selling price was $110 million, though that’s unconfirmed. Interestingly, Amazon was one of several sites to at one point ape Woot’s idea with a service called Amazon Gold Box. I’m not sure if they’ll keep that going–seems like they might as well ax it and just stick Woot in that space instead. But Woot will remain in Texas with the same owners and style.
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.
Woot does note that they might take advantage of Amazon’s high-end technological resources–perhaps their site will stay up and running the next time they sell a dirt-cheap, mystery-box Bag of Crap item (Woot’s servers are usually overwhelmed within seconds on Bag of Crap days). I’m not sure what Amazon gets out of the deal, but the company is successful, popular, and constantly growing, and that’s never a bad arrow to have in your quiver.