Category Archives: General

Acquired by Amazon: Who Might Be Next

I recently wrote an article for the Software Advice blog discussing eight companies Amazon.com might acquire. The article was meant to be thought-provoking and controversial; I concede that all of the companies I mention are longshots for an acquisition. I was pleased by how much discussion the article generated in the social media world and wanted to take a moment to briefly address some of the comments I’ve seen thus far.

One reader noted the US-centricity of the contender list. Indeed, I focused exclusively on American-based companies. Amazon is of course a global player and in the past has made several investments and acquisitions abroad. They will certainly continue to do so. As a side note, one of the companies I considered for my contender list was ASOS, the UK’s largest independent online fashion and beauty retailer.

Also, I focused exclusively on bigger-name companies. Realistically, most of Amazon’s acquisitions will be—and thus far have been—small, relatively unknown players. But of course, I don’t know these companies, and neither do you. Even if I could identify a few viable acquisition candidates, you, as a reader, would have no frame of reference by which to evaluate whether they made sense.

Another reader asked about an oft-cited acquisition contender: Barnes & Noble. Sure, their stock has been beaten down, making it cheap to buy, and now there’s talk of splitting off its Nook business, which Amazon wouldn’t want, anyway. But I just can’t see what Amazon stands to gain from buying B&N’s retail operations.

Other readers made comments that I feel reflect a misunderstanding of the real-world mechanics of acquisitions. For instance, some pointed out that some of the companies on my list “weren’t for sale.” Well, it’s extremely rare that a company publicly acknowledges that it’s looking for a buyer. But companies approach each other, unsolicited, all the time about acquisitions. They often suddenly become for sale if the price and deal structure are sufficiently compelling.

And, along those lines, companies don’t acquire others just because they’re cheap or seem like a “good deal.” There has to be some perception of—here comes the buzzword—strategic “synergy” between the two companies. In some cases, though, a tech-focused company like Amazon just wants to buy core technologies or key staff members. It’s about value, not about price.

What do you think? Check out the article on the Software Advice blog and leave a comment.

Take a Shortcut

A primary goal in all your online marketing initiatives should be to make it easy—not tricky—for your customers and other interested parties to connect with your organization. Which is why I was shocked to come across an advertisement in Car and Driver magazine for Purolator oil and air filters. At the bottom of the full-page ad for was this sentence:

Save up to $6 by logging on to www.purolatorautofilters.net/Pages/PromoA.aspx

Seriously? How many people will type in that URL? And what percentage of people who try will make a spelling error that will prove fatal, such as typing “.com” instead of “.net,” or “.asp” instead of “.aspx?”

A better way for Purolator to have handled this would be to use a simplified URL such as http://www.purolatorautofilters.net/cd (to indicate the campaign source as Car and Driver). I’m guessing there were minor technical issues that made it easier for Purolator to implement it the way they did, but that’s not the point: they should do the extra work to make it easier for their customers, not make their customers do extra work.

Another approach to shorter, easier to use URLs is using one of the many free online shortcut URL services, such as tinyurl.com, budurl.com, or bit.ly. Using budurl, for instance, the long Purolator URL would become a much more manageable budurl.com/7xux. Moreover, these shortcut URLs mask bizarre or hard to spell company names. Another key advantage of these short URLs is that they’re easy for your customers to spread virally, such as in Twitter updates, in emails, or in status updates on Facebook or LinkedIn.

Help your customers help you!