Jeff Bezos eats octopus like he acquires companies.
At least that’s what’s apparent from a tidbit in D Magazine’s profile of Matt Rutledge and his former company Woot.com, which Amazon acquired back in 2010.
The entire story is interesting, but there’s one part that is particularly funny — or scary, depending on how you interpret it — when Rutledge recounts a breakfast he had with Bezos at Tom Douglas’ Lola restaurant in Seattle shortly after Amazon decided to purchase Woot for $110 million.
Rutledge asked Bezos a simple question: Why did you buy Woot?
After an awkward delay, Bezos offered a not-so-simple answer. From the story:
He looked down at his plate. Bezos had ordered a dish called Tom’s Big Breakfast, a preparation of Mediterranean octopus that includes potatoes, bacon, green garlic yogurt, and a poached egg. “You’re the octopus that I’m having for breakfast,” Rutledge remembers Bezos saying. “When I look at the menu, you’re the thing I don’t understand, the thing I’ve never had. I must have the breakfast octopus.”
Not until Rutledge had returned to Dallas and related the story to his anxious employees—now Amazon’s employees—did he realize just how absurd that explanation sounded. Before it can be eaten, generally, the breakfast octopus must be killed.
What could that mean? One possible explanation: Bezos thinks smaller companies he wants to acquire are like octopus. He might not totally understand what they do, but he wants it. First, though, he must kill — er, acquire — the company before bringing it under Amazon’s watch.
Speaking of Woot, let’s enjoy what’s still one of the greatest acquisition announcements we’ve seen: