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IM Just Saying: Woot.com CEO Matt Rutledge Talks About the Amazon Deal

As Krista mentioned in Leading Off this morning, local homeboys Woot.com were acquired by Amazon yesterday. If you’ve never spent any time poking around on Woot — one deal, one day — you ought to. It’s a really well-executed concept, and the writing they turn out (in their forums, about their products) is truly funny. For instance, watch the monkey rap they produced to announce the deal with Amazon.

After the jump, Woot CEO Matt Rutledge fields a few questions about whether his employees are all set to go on spending sprees.

9:55 AM mrutledge: this tiny window can’t possibly be their chat interface is it?
me: Yeah, but you can pop it out.
mrutledge: ah ok right. much better
9:56 AM me: You ready?
mrutledge: sure thing
me: First, congrats on the deal and for being so awesome. That rap with the monkey — very Spose’s “I’m Awesome.” I thought it was genius.
9:58 AM mrutledge: Working with our creative team is obviously the most fun part of my job. I was quite pleased to so immediately be able to confirm our independence. Though it was fun to imagine their heads spinning while reviewing our materials.
me: Who performed the song? Whose idea was it?
9:59 AM mrutledge: Matthew Shultz is our daily podcast producer/singer/writer. He’s the same one that’s done our BOC song, Woot-off song, etc..
10:00 AM those are published daily under the “today’s wootcast” header sort of in the middle area of the home page
well every weekday actually
10:01 AM me: And how about your email to employees explaining the deal? My favorite line: “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‚Äôs wife on our iPods.” Did you write that yourself, or was that the guy who writes your product descriptions?
10:03 AM mrutledge: so we have a team of 4 writers and a couple other creative contributors and I would be crazy not to get their brainstorming ability in on that opportunity.. so it has elements from everyone in it
10:04 AM a lot of our material is worked on by the collective group of us, though the daily write ups are often a single writers effort
10:05 AM me: I find it odd that you guys have more writers than we do. Strange. How many employees altogether?
10:07 AM mrutledge: I believe the count is 163. about half of those are fulfillment/warehouse staff. Design and Creative teams are in the same department generally and there are maybe 8 total with 4 being only writers. It’s a luxury but basically we have to be ready to act very quickly to product opportunities. And we have events like the ‘woot-off’ which really task that team
10:08 AM me: I know you can’t disclose financial terms of the Amazon deal, but do all 183 employees go out and buy new cars today?
163. sorry
10:09 AM mrutledge: there could be a few new-to-them cars in the lot, I suppose. the deal closes “in the third quarter” so no actual results quite yet.
10:10 AM me: But it’s fair to say that this deal will change the lives of some of your senior staff, yes?
I mean, change their lives in terms of their finances?
10:14 AM mrutledge: There is some immediate upside, but most of the teams focus is forward looking and based on the employment opportunity. Being able to grow more aggressively and increase our relevance. With a larger company there is a more of a structured view of incentives and a career path for folks to benefit from.
it’s hard to define these days what life changing would mean
10:15 AM me: Wow. That sounds very corporate of you. I should have asked one of your writers that question.
Just a couple more and I’ll let you go.
mrutledge: heh, yeah – you’d get a more enjoyable response from them. they might just say “no, same old sucky job”
10:16 AM me: The cool thing about Woot is that the shopping aspect of it feels (to me anyway) like an excuse to have fun and build a community. You’re very involved with that community, interacting with people online. For instance, I’ve tweeted about Woot before and gotten a response from you. (Huge braggart.)
How do you find time to do that — and still actually run a company with 163 employees?
10:18 AM mrutledge: Well basically I’d say that’s a pretty critical part of the job. I mean to the extent we want to document what goes into our brand (we resist that generally), our transparency and blunt approach are keys. what better way to do that then to jump in and act the fool in our forums.
10:20 AM I do admit I’ve found twitter pretty difficult to fit in. I sort of jump in and out there randomly.
focusing on the community came really naturally for us – I bet we were probably a year into it before we totally grasped that it was also a good business decision
me: Okay let’s end with a speed round.
10:21 AM iPad or Kindle?
mrutledge: both
me: iPhone or Blackberry?
mrutledge: iphone
me: Lights on or lights off?
mrutledge: strobes are cool when available. On otherwise
10:22 AM me: Beach or snow?
mrutledge: beach
me: Bacon or frosting?
mrutledge: ahh.. an interesting product idea there. bacon though has to come first
10:23 AM me: That was the right answer. Okay, man, thanks for your time. And congrats again on the deal. Enjoy the honeymoon period.
mrutledge: thanks Tim. appreciate all you’ve shared in the past!

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