St. Louis • Woot.com, a fast-growing Internet retailer with an office in south St. Louis, said this week that it has been acquired by Amazon.
And that spells the end of its office in south St. Louis.
As part of the merger, the creative and design functions that Woot runs out of newly rehabbed offices near Tower Grove Park will move to Seattle to be closer to the new parent company, Chief Executive Matt Rutledge said Thursday.
"There's a lot of learning back and forth to occur," he said. "We're going to be independent, but (Amazon's) a big operation, and there's lots to learn. So it makes sense from a connectivity perspective."
The sale comes less than a year after Woot announced plans to double its local staff from 12 to 24. While the company's headquarters and most of its employees are in Dallas, it opened a St. Louis office when Rutledge hired his brother — who lived here and wanted to stay — to run Web development and design operations.
Woot's departure won't mean a lot of jobs — it currently has fewer than 20 St. Louis employees, Rutledge said. But it highlights a long-running challenge the region has had in keeping young startups. Local high-tech incubators have seen a number of companies move to or expand on the West Coast in recent years to be closer to financing. Most famously, Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey is from St. Louis but launched his company in San Francisco.
Rutledge said he had "mixed feelings" about Woot's move. It makes sense from a business perspective to move some people closer to Amazon, but Woot found good creative staffers in St. Louis.
"We're well-known for our creative abilities and marketing, and that involves a lot of local talent," he said. "Those aren't people who migrated to St. Louis for the job. Those are people who were homegrown."
Rutledge said he hadn't talked with city officials about incentives to stay in St. Louis, but nor had he talked with them about incentives during last year's expansion.
Neither Amazon nor Rutledge would share financial terms of the deal, which is set to close in the third quarter.