Following Amazon's announcement that it has agreed to acquire Austin-based Whole Foods, I reached out to Harlan Beverly, a serial entrepreneur and assistant director of Texas Venture Labs at the University of Texas, for his take on how the deal impacts Austin.
AI: How does Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods impact Austin’s biz/tech scene?
Beverly: Amazon likes to take a very long view of business. Their CEO, Jeff Bezos, is known for his long-term planning and thinking. This acquisition could mean Amazon will be interested in even more Austin-based acquisitions, and that could be very good for Austin. Regardless, acquisitions of this size and popularity can only serve to improve Austin's reputation as one of the world's best hubs for startups.
AI: Does Austin’s reputation go up or down when Expedia acquires HomeAway and Amazon eats Whole Foods?
Beverly: I do not think either HomeAway or Whole Foods will be eaten. I think they were acquired in a large part for their brand and their culture. Austin's reputation will only go up as the world realizes that our companies get acquired and stay whole because of their culture and team. Being acquired is great, but being acquired and being kept whole is even better for founders whose dream lives on under the new ownership. Austin can become the place where you start companies that get acquired for big money and then live on beyond the acquisition.
AI: Any other thoughts on how this impacts Austin – and/or what small startups that sell their goods to Amazon or Whole Foods might need to think about?
Beverly: If my hypothesis is correct, and Whole Foods stays its own brand, I think it means that small startups will continue to get wins with Whole Foods as a launch partner. In fact, I believe it's the whole reason Amazon bought Whole Foods. Whole Foods has access to the Austin startup community, has a reputation for launching innovative products, and that, I believe, will continue to exist and perhaps even broaden and expand as Amazon invests and expands the Whole Foods brand.