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Thursday, Jul. 23, 2009 at 11:55 am

Will Amazon Zap Zappos’s Innovative Culture?

By Brendan Regan
July 23rd, 2009

shoesI just read a somewhat surprising story about Zappos.com being acquired by Amazon.com. The details were posted to Zappos’s blog yesterday in a very Zappos-esque transparent style, including an 8-minute video of Jeff Bezos talking about the alliance, along with some good stories about Amazon’s early days and foibles.  The surprise comes from the fact that Amazon spent lots of money developing the competitive Endless.com shoe-selling site a few years ago.  If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em?

My question to Grok readers is:
Will Amazon’s infamous pressure-cooker culture eventually overtake all the innovations and friendliness of Zappos’s culture? Or, is the alliance a perfect shot-in-the-arm for both groups?  Will Zappos start bundling books with patent leather pumps? ;)

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Comments (14)

  1. Jeff Bezos video is def worth watching, good insights into their culture and strengths. Every startup veteran will relate to his ” “My whole body is covered in scar tissue!” quote! LOL

    However with product recommendations I can see it now: “Mr Governor you do need a trail guide with those hiking shoes for your Appalachian Trail Hike in Argentina?” LOL

  2. Big companies are ruled by their own laws… The competition makes them fighting each other for the client and for some products. That is an interesting issue from a cultural point of view.

  3. That is a really great video. Every entrepreneur looking to start anything should watch this video.

  4. I think it is a great synergy based on the core competencies of each company. Zappos is a customer service company that happens to sell shoes. They have also have the proven ability to scale high-touch customer service on a massive level – way beyond where niche retailers have tried and failed. Amazon on other hand provides little or no customer support – just an easy way to send stuff back (essentially email only support – no 800, social media, etc). Amazon’s core competency is in selling & distribution. While I’m not sure of if $847 million was the right price (but they did over a billion in sales in 2008) I think each company stands to benefit greatly.

  5. I hope the Zappos brand doesn’t disappear. I’m a big customer of both… but Zappos is really special. I use them in my book Neuro Web Design: What makes them click? as examples of what to do in several chapters. And they were nice enough to give me permission. I asked Amazon for permission to use them in the book as a good example of several principles… I can’t remember, but either they said “no” or I never heard back from them…

  6. Every alliance in business world stays in shadow of particular deals and agreements. We will never know the details of such agreements, so I think that what will happen with Zap Zappos is a total mystery at now.

  7. Just as Microsoft does.If you can’t beat them buy them.

    I think that the zappos will lose its gloss.

  8. I sure hope that they are able to preserve some of the Zappo’s current corporate culture.

    Where else do they ask you ‘what your theme song is’ during the interview process.

  9. I like this article.
    It is insightful.
    As far as i am concerned,big companies are always ruled by their own laws.It is full of competition between them.

  10. Amazon is just such a well run enterprise, they simply blow me away at what they’ve accomplished and how they’ve adapted to the market.

  11. They will be beaten in the end, either out of their own growth, or by somebody splitting them up. Can’t stay on top forever…unless you are the government of the United States haha

  12. I think any time a large corporation takes over a small company, a lot of what made the small company great disappears. Haven’t seen that happen yet in this case.

  13. zappos is going to turn just like all the sites that are getting bought out and getting bigger.

  14. Nearly 10 months since Amazon aquired Zappos. Zappos is stronger than ever. I think Amazon is building on the reputation Zappos has built on being heavy on customer service, returns and accessiblity. Also, aquiring Zappos was one of the biggest aquisition Amazon has ever made, so the must see the potential in the the shoes and apparel industry on the web in the next couple years. A heard the Zappos Q1 revenue was huge, so if this is any indication of what we can expect from Amazon ownership of the Zappos brand, it will be good.

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