Matt Rutledge, founder and CEO of Woot, and the grandfather of the daily deal, is stepping down from his position, two years after the website sold to Amazon.com. In an email sent to staffers, and subsequently posted to the community’s website, Rutledge said that he was resigning his position effective June 15th to “move on to future projects with fewer acronyms.”
Woot was founded way back in 2004, and became a pioneer in the burgeoning “daily deals” market. It sought to give visitors one deal a day, posted to the website (like clockwork) at midnight. As the site grew and the deals improved, items regularly sold out just minutes after they were posted — especially Woot’s famous “bag of crap,” which usually contained a hodgepodge of whatever leftover inventory and office supplies the team had lying around.
Then the company hit the big time and was acquired by Amazon for $110 million two years ago. While it had already been expanding into new verticals, with the introduction of Wine.Woot.com and Shirt.Woot.com, adding a big parent company like Amazon quickly accelerated the addition of new deal segments on Woot.
I spoke with Rutledge for a few minutes this morning about the changing landscape and what his plans were for the future.
He said that while Groupon, LivingSocial, and others appeared on the scene and copied the general marketing idea — offer a set of deals once a day — what they were doing was different than Woot’s core strength, which was sourcing items (primarily electronics) for its daily sales. While the explosion of daily deals sites certainly helped Woot to find a buyer in Amazon, Rutledge says looking back he might have liked to stay independent and compete in that fast-growing market.
As for why he left, Rutledge said that he was too much of a founder to fit into a large organization, and that earlier stages of growth are far more interesting than managing a subsidiary in a behemoth like Amazon. All in all, though, he said it’s a little bittersweet to leave the company that he founded.
So what’s next? Rutledge has a few ideas kicking around, but said it’s too early to tell what he’ll work on after leaving Woot. He said he still sees a lot of opportunity for disruption in retail, particularly in the ability to directly connect manufacturers with consumers. So stay tuned.