Wal-Mart’s Retail War with Amazon Depends on Landing Rockstar CEO Marc Lore

walmart-logoAs Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) closes in on its $3 billion acquisition of online retailer Jet.com, people close to the situation report that the deal hinges upon retaining Jet.com CEO Marc Lore.

The move appears to be as much of a talent acquisition as it is a business one. From Bloomberg:

[The deal] will require Jet founder Marc Lore to head the retailer’s online division for several years, according to people familiar with the matter.

Lore would stay in that role for longer than the two-plus years he spent at Amazon.com Inc., said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the details aren’t public. The deal combines Jet’s proprietary technology, customer data and Lore’s e-commerce know-how with Wal-Mart’s extensive supplier relationships and its $480 billion revenue stream that can be used to fight Amazon, the online market leader.

Lore was previously the co-founder of Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com. When that firm was acquired by Amazon several years ago, Lore stayed on with AMZN for a couple years before leaving to launch Jet.com.

Now Wal-Mart was Lore to help them wage an all-out retail war versus Amazon, which has taken over its crown as the king of retail. AMZN’s market cap has ballooned to $365 billion, while WMT’s has sagged to $231 billion. Wal-Mart famously had a banner hanging in its warehouse that read “We can’t out-Amazon Amazon,” but times have changed — and so has the company’s online strategy.

It’s now clear that WMT does want to battle Amazon head-on in the e-commerce space, and it wants Lore to be a big part of that. His business acumen and inside knowledge of Amazon’s operations should prove invaluable, assuming the company can finalize the deal.

Wal-Mart shares closed on Friday at $73.76, up $0.46 (+0.63%). The stock has gained 20% year-to-date, nearly tripling the performance of the benchmark S&P 500 in the same period.

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