Notably, no one else on this comment thread is
willing to attach their real identity to it.
I've been contacted by Amazon recruiting many
times. I'm a Seattleite with 10+ years of
software engineering experience. And I'll say
the same thing here that I say to every AMZN
recruiter who contacts me: no way, no how.
Amazon is a sweatshop, and anyone who thinks
otherwise—especially Jeff—is deluding themselves.
I wish that Amazon featured *anywhere* on my
list of 'prospective employers that I'd consider
working at someday,' but given the reputation
that they have with my friends, there's
absolutely no way I'd ever consider working
there under any circumstances.
If my feelings are anything like other
prospective senior and principal-level
employees here in the area (and I assume
they are), then it concerns me deeply about
A wise tradeoff for the right person, imo.
Work Hard; Live Hard
Description: Have a good work life balance. When you're able and its appropriate, work hard. If you're not able, for whatever reason, or if it isn't appropriate to be working, please don't be working.
What is deemed able: If you're sick, you're not able. If you're tired, you're not able. If you're grieving, you are not able. etc.
What is deemed appropriate: Work <strike>50</strike> 40 hour weeks on average. While working regular hours, work hard. There may also be weeks you need to deliver, there may be weeks you need to be oncall: please work hard (i.e. more). However, if you constantly "have to deliver" or are consistently fighting fires, then something is wrong. This shouldn't be happening. Consider: are you setting bad dates for yourself? is your manager/team setting bad dates for you? Either way, fix that tomorrow. Meanwhile, quote this leadership principle and go home.
Scared your manager wont like your new attitude shift? Just quote "Its in Amazon's blood, Work Hard; Live Hard, I have a Kelly Clarkson concert to go to!"
P.S. Please realize I haven't given this much thought, every idea requires refinement, and this post is 40% in jest. Meanwhile, if you'd like to help Amazon potentially find a new leadership principle on the internet, constructive criticism or humor are my favorite types of responses ;).
In a nutshell, he fails to acknowledge that there is a problem, and passes the risk of reporting to employees.
I'm not sure how he intended it to be read. I'm waiting to see if his "you'd be crazy to work at a place like that" actually results in improvements, or an increase in attrition.
My experience there (also 3 months) was that there were all these young kids who had no idea what a healthy work environment looked like and so they didn't know what they were missing out on.
Its important to note that when you buy a product, you are essentially voting with your wallet, saying "yes" to a company, its values, ways of operation, impact on the planet, etc etc. Its easy just to pass this as an internal amazon problem, but if you still buy there, you are supporting it anyway.
I've stopped using Amazon 2 years ago, dont miss it, and dont think I will.
1) market competition: if there's no (better) competitor and you need the services provided for whatever you need, how can you vote with your wallet?
2) Price: I'd love to buy ethically sourced-everything, but I simply cannot afford it and will never be able to (on my current income) as long as unethically sourced remains this much cheaper and the norm. Income and market prices adapt to each other.
3) Knowledge & time: It is incredibly time and energy consuming to find out all these things. Amazon has now made the news, but how do you know which competitors are better? Look at food, even with all the labels we have these days there is still a lot of misleading information out there.
4) All of the above and more applied to everyone: As I mentioned, the above probably doesn't apply to most of the HN crowd, but any of these reasons (and probably a lot more I missed) would be enough to stop someone from voting with their wallet. In order to do so you must have the knowledge, time, energy and availability. Something not everyone has. If but a small minority can (and wants) to vote with their wallet, it will almost never be cost-effective for companies to change.
Whatever happened to good old fashioned legislation? One can make a similar argument for voting (time & knowledge limitations mostly), but they should be less severe barriers.
Really, how many of us need to buy office supplies, diapers, or groceries from amazon? How many times do you need to have a book delivered to you in less than X hours? We have these fabricated needs and companies that provide services to fulfil them, which really says a lot about the power of their marketing.
Again, not disagreeing with your arguments, I just think they dont apply to the majority of the cases, where you can avoid amazon and just shop elsewhere (slightly less convenient, I must say - its a matter of values, and voting with your wallet)
As an AMZN shareholder, these are big benefits. As an employee, I would expect things to break down a bit.
The CEO of a gigantic company, who's most likely already absolutely swamped in email, is asking people to email him at his direct, known-to-public address, which is most likely managed by a team of secretaries, instead of providing a specific target address along with instructions on how to send mail there anonymously.
I don't think anyone would dare take him up on that offer in the first place, and if he's really this deluded about it, he might end up taking zero incoming mails on this topic as "proof" that everything is fine.
That remark about contacting HR is also a little funny, since it seems like employees already consider HR to be enemy agents.
But in a way it is a time for action. Pushing your people to the extreme and caring about them are not mutually exclusive. Depending on Mr. Bezos' actions in a few days we will understand if the amazon toxic culture is policies stripped from a lot of nuance when made into soundbites or got that way by design.
And a CEO could indeed be somewhat isolated - at that level you see reports that have already passed a couple of levels of sanitation.
Please clarify. The article does mention an email address. Twice.
and through my own professional experience, i know for a fact nobody with a cutesy demeanor like that builds a company like amazon. i don't buy it for a second. i don't buy this little emergency damage control email either.
also, just one little detail from the article that jumped out at me - any company that specifically designs and defines a mechanism for anonymous reporting (snitching) on your coworkers to your manager, knows how it will be used - as a manipulative backstabbing tool. these people aren't naive, they're professional assholes designing their own little lord of the flies workplace.
it's like someone took the gervais principle and optimized for it.
"Fucking Eric Schmidt is a fucking pussy.
I'm going to fucking bury that guy,
I have done it before, and I will do it again.
I'm going to fucking kill Google."
I would feel like a failure because I couldn't push myself or my employees to work that way. I wanted everyone to have a good time, to work, but also to have fun with their work. It felt like I was doing something wrong.
Today, I've given up on that "18 hour workday" dream. I'm not built like that. I don't care about maximizing efficiency or increasing profitability. I want everyone to be happy, and I've realized that that's anti-thetical to the way businesses usually work across the world.
I don't care. I'm happy. My workers are happy. The clients I have are certainly happy. Others can work their 18 hour days and buy six figure cars they can't drive. I'll stick to my 7-8 hours, read my favorite authors and spend time with friends.
i.e., when you go to work for microsoft or oracle you pretty much know what you're dealing with. interestingly, i haven't heard nearly as many stories about shitty work environments at those companies.
This seems a bit "Closing the barn doors after the horses are gone".
Alternately, this rings a bit hollow given the turnover rate: I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.
For as much as there's an emphasis on data, that seems like a worthwhile value to track.
Really, and who's going to stick their neck out? I would rather get off than wasting time trying to fix things which I don't have control on.
Here's an excerpt:
His Big Mandate went something along these lines:
1) All teams will henceforth expose their data and functionality through service interfaces.
2) Teams must communicate with each other through these interfaces.
3) There will be no other form of interprocess communication allowed: no direct linking, no direct reads of another team's data store, no shared-memory model, no back-doors whatsoever. The only communication allowed is via service interface calls over the network.
4) It doesn't matter what technology they use. HTTP, Corba, Pubsub, custom protocols -- doesn't matter. Bezos doesn't care.
5) All service interfaces, without exception, must be designed from the ground up to be externalizable. That is to say, the team must plan and design to be able to expose the interface to developers in the outside world. No exceptions.
6) Anyone who doesn't do this will be fired.
7) Thank you; have a nice day!
Ha, ha! You 150-odd ex-Amazon folks here will of course realize immediately that #7 was a little joke I threw in, because Bezos most definitely does not give a shit about your day.
and thats why so many use AWS.
Seattle is full of tech workers who retired young from their appreciating stock options, from Microsoft and Amazon and presumably other companies. At one point I read that Microsoft had minted 10,000 millionaires in the Seattle area. I don't know what the corresponding Amazon figures are, but I suspect they are similar.
Note that AMZN is up about 60% just in the last year.
What would be a better way to respond as a CEO? What would you have done?
Second they could have offered an increase in benefits like paternity leave to show they want to improve things.
He did neither of those
Stuff that's actually, you know, real.
Something "while I don't recognize this as a description of the company I have built, if it is even partly true it is horrifying and wrong. I have hired an independent firm to come in and blah blah...".
I think saying 'my door is open' is both nice and important, but it is a pretty limp response if that is the beginning and end of what you are doing. All you have to do is read Glassdoor, or talk to people, to know the reputation of Amazon.
Where I work I actually had reason to e-mail the CEO once ( it was for a C-level presentation ).
A few minutes later his PA rang me to ensure that I actually meant to e-mail him. I confirmed it and she sent the invitation on to his actual internal address.
I would assume that Amazon utilises a similar screening system.
At the risk of a very lame pun, this leaves me cold.
Denigrating someone else's work isn't good reporting.
They may just be "Frozen dolls" but it's what Amazon does, they sell everything to everyone.
Should an Amazon worker be more exhilarated by supplying much needed medical supplies in record time? Perhaps, but in essence - the company's ideals should (and clearly do) run through its entire business.
Working people to breaking point (which is what the article is about) can be reported on without making a value judgement on what the company sells or how important they think it is.
My take is that engineers (much in demand, can leave and pick up new work anwhere in this sellers'market) are going to live in a different work culture than anybody else (the general job market is still bearish, they can't transfer any specialist skill so easily).
Apart from AWS, ( technically a well defined and ran technology platform ) what exactly is Amazon doing to make it a sweat shop. If something similar were to describe Apple or even Google / Tesla . Then i could understand as they are constantly innovating, pushing hard at everything on a tight deadline, while Amazon.........
The rest make larger gross margins, so they can afford not to treat their employees like a massive cost center.
This story is really pushing me to walk away from the process.
There were many truths in that NYT article (and probably also many stretchings of the truth as well), but to try to sweep all of that aside seems extremely disingenuous. What a nutcase this Bezos guy is.
IMO, investigating the issue and acting upon it is a better move for Amazon's employees and PR.