The announcement that Amazon is buying Zappos is so sad.
What online retailing needs is more innovators, not fewer.
Jeff Bezos of Amazon (recommendation engine and free delivery over $25) and Tony Hsieh of Zappos (free delivery both ways, 365-day guarantee and social shopping) are at the top of their game. And the game.
Says here that Hsieh will move on within 18 months, after joining Amazon. He's a two-time winner, having sold LinkExchange, an advertising network he co-founded to Microsoft for $265M in 1998. And a guy clearly confident in his ability to find new veins of gold to tap in digital commerce.
But wouldn't it have been a lot better for etailing in general if we customers had witnessed and benefitted from a head-to-head competition across multiple categories of these two outfits?
This would have been Yankees versus Red Sox, Coke versus Pepsi, Microsoft versus Google every step of the way. Zappos would figure out a way to make shopping fun and interactive, make you want to work for them. Amazon would just make it as efficient as possible.
Now, if they do manage to marry the two, effectively, and keep it up -- for the long term -- then online shoppers everywhere will win.
But the absorbed culture (in this case, Zappos) usually is the one that disappears.
Tell us when you get ready to turn out the lights, Tony.