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Amazon laying off corporate employees in rare cutback (seattletimes.com)
183 points by stratelogical 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 143 comments

The hiring freeze has already been horrendous. We're told to keep hitting all our goals even if we lose people and can't hire to backfill. Now we're just straight up losing people to layoffs? Keeping the lights on alone is barely possible with the resources we have.

It would be one thing if we were in dire straights as a company. Imho, this is just short-sighted nonsense so some senior leader can hit an arbitrary goal and get a bonus.

I wonder if Alexa or AWS are hiring.

> I wonder if Alexa or AWS are hiring.

... The very first sentence of the article:

> as the company shifts resources into fast-growing areas like its work on voice assistant Alexa

As someone working in Amazon retail, I have to say I'm now worried. Though it does feel like we don't have enough people to do the work we are planning to do for the year.

That's funny if they've had a hiring freeze since last week I got contacted by an Amazon recruiter wanting me to move to Seattle

Got one today too. Put on a Gore tex coat and stood under the shower, on cold, for a half an hour, and decided that Seattle is probably not to my liking outside of, say, late July.

I know you're joking but it's actually not even raining today in Seattle. In fact, it's irritatingly bright (it's sunny).

I prefer the overcast & rainy unless it's summer/spring.


Funny it was 21 on the other side of the hill today. Was warm last week.

I love Amazon recruiters. They contact me a few times a year.

Recruiter: we think you would be a good match for this position

Me: you realize that I live in Los Angeles, right?

Well some people are willing to move. Maybe not you, but it's not like they know what you think.

The true seasons we experience in Seattle provide me [and I hear this from pals in tech.] with refreshment, mental health benefits. Or, what some consider the negative aspects of cold rain becomes fresh snow an hour outside of Seattle.

Also prefer to build products in Seattle winters; celebrate releases in the spring and summer.

Eight months of the year it's drizzle every day. But the other four months, well they almost make up for it. I spent a couple of really great summers in Seattle.

Plus, no snow unless you want it- then you drive to the mountains.

An ex-manager (who was from Microsoft) told me that's how they cheated interns. 4 months of great views and weather, the intern is hooked, and when they join full-time they discover the other 8 months.

I found myself just living for summers and then trying to grasp them like a fist full of sand as they slipped away all too quickly, leaving me to contemplate all the things I wished I'd been able to do, while staring out at the relentless gray sameness outside as another long winter arrived.

The first time I visited Seattle was the middle of July. The weather was warm and sunny. I recall going swimming in Lake Washington. Everyone was really, really happy and joyful, to the extent that I wondered if I had been lied to all my life about Seattle.

I guess SAD is a thing. Is there an anti-SAD?

Even in Norcal, Seasonal Affective Disorder is a thing.

I think your body just notices the (smaller) temperature and sunlight fluctuations.

People living in places that have long, dark, cold, wet winters certainly appreciate the shit out of summer while it lasts.

I’ve only ever visited Seattle in the second half of July and found it to be stellar.

The PNW west of the Cascades is glorious in summer. Blue skies, clean air, no humidity, warm temperatures but not too warm. But the long, drizzly, gray winters are hell for those of us who like sunlight.

If you want to move to the area, visit in November or March or something to get an idea of what it's really like.

January and February. That's where I always start to break down in misery. It's been cloudy for ages. The days are starting to get longer but they're still short. And I start wondering if moving back home to New Orleans would be all that bad. Surely that wouldn't coincide with a hurricane trashing the place twice in my lifetime, would it?

It was sunny today, and yesterday. It's been really weird, because I guess I had forgotten what sun was like...

Can't you drive east for a couple of hours and get lots of sun? This was my understanding of Washington.

I am an urbanite who has never learnt to drive in her forty years of life. So no, I can’t.

The weather is much better east of the Cascades. But a 2 hour drive (in good weather!) means it's not something you're likely to do all that often.

Im in Beaverton and you nailed it. Although last summer was pretty hot its still not bad. PNW is just amazing. Guess it takes a certain someone who can deal with the rain and bad drivers that go along with it for the rest of the year.

>short-sighted nonsense so some senior leader can hit an arbitrary goal and get a bonus

This is in fact how most business decisions are made.

Yes, Amazon is known for its short-sightedness...

> Keeping the lights on alone is barely possible with the resources we have.

Surely with half a million employees you have at least one person on lightbulbs.

> Surely with half a million employees you have at least one person on lightbulbs.

Or you can just ask Alexa to turn the lights.

> Imho, this is just short-sighted nonsense so some senior leader can hit an arbitrary goal and get a bonus.

Welcome to centralized economic planning, mega-corp edition. Pick a number.

I've been contacted be 2 or 3 AWS recruiters in the last month, so presumably they are hiring.

>It would be one thing if we were in dire straights as a company.

Oh, so as long as the company is profitable, it should just throw money at employees that are no longer adding net value?

>Imho, this is just short-sighted nonsense so some senior leader can hit an arbitrary goal and get a bonus.

Based on what? Reading an article with no internal insight and absolutely no knowledge of the business itself? Sounds more like you have an ax to grind.

>I wonder if Alexa or AWS are hiring.

I mean, you didn't even read the article.

>I mean, you didn't even read the article.

They work at Amazon, probably doesn't have the time to read full articles

My wife works at amazon, and has time to read such stuff as well has have a lot of fun, intellectually and otherwise, at work.

I posted this while working at Amazon.

Guys like Bezos and Wilke don't really worry about their bonuses. It's not about bonuses, it's about becoming the first trillion-dollar company.

A layoff of any kind or scale is interesting for AMZN, given that they have so much diversity of teams, jobs, skills, products, etc. It's interesting that they couldn't repurpose a few hundred people, even given their infamous up or out mentality. Sounds like they are knowingly giving up good people since the current culture fires anyone that doesn't produce already. Willingly giving up good people doesn't seem like a healthy signal.

Edit: Encountered this at a company acquired by private equity right before the 2008 bubble. They did 3 straight stack-rank/fire-the-bottom rounds. Was clear in the second round we were letting go of really good talent to the competition solely for some executive's bonus tied to short term numbers. And, it did bite them later.

It's a super healthy signal.

Let's say hypothetically that Amazon started a VR project and hired a team of 100 PhDs whose expertise is VR to work on that project. After 2 years, the company realized that it's not working out and shut that project down.

Because of the bad optics of layoffs (especially of such highly skilled engineers), the engineers were reassigned to various positions that require expertise in computer graphics. Bear in mind that these 100 engineers have niche skills and most of them feel that VR is their life's calling; they're not interested in generic computer graphics. They are overpaid, underemployed, and miserable.

The best of them leave after a month of two; the remainder trudges on for a year until they also leave or get pushed out. The outcome is that Amazon has wasted shareholder money and got themselves a bad rep with those engineers (and their friends). A straight layoff would have worked much better, but unfortunately most companies don't have the balls for it.

> Bear in mind that these 100 engineers have niche skills and most of them feel that VR is their life's calling; they're not interested in generic computer graphics. They are overpaid, underemployed, and miserable.

Except that you just made all that up. It is a huge major if. Especially that part about calling and the part about them having only niche skills.

Guess what those "best ones who leave" will do? You guessed right, they will do not VR.

> Sounds like they are knowingly giving up good people since the current culture fires anyone that doesn't produce already.

I wouldn't be surprised if these lay offs were also chosen to increase average employee quality.

Seattle Times likes to give Amazon bad press. Seattle has enough other tech companies to absorb a few hundred jobs. Companies routinely end up over-hiring or having redundant positions. It appears that they are laying off less than 10% of their Seattle staff, while they are still expanding the amount of office space they occupy in Seattle.

This seems like no big deal for Seattle and Amazon.

"less than 10% of their Seattle staff"

even less than 1%

The problem is "a few hundred" is an undefined number.

400 would be about 1%, which would be fairly reported as a few hundred. My ceiling number is very high, but I would believe more than 1% are let go.

Having to enact a layoff to deal with 400 people when you already have a reputation about being ruthless with "up or out" is interesting though. As I understand it, it's not hard to fire deadwood at Amazon. So why risk the PR hit with "layoffs"? Seems curious.

Maybe it's not bad PR with Wall St given how the stock went up after the announcement.

That seems consistent with solely short term interest.

Does amazon really employ 40,000 people in its corporate headquarters? Microsoft does, but it has a much much bigger campus.

Yes according to [0]. Just look at their campus map [1]. It is massive and some of those buildings are dozens of stories tall.

[0]: https://www.amazon.com/p/feature/4kc8ovgnyf996yn

[1]: https://static.seattletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/7...

It doesn't really, maybe by footprint on the ground, but Amazon has lots of tall buildings.

Yes they do, and the math works out. About 8k people work in their two belltown towers alone.

I've always wondered how companies like Amazon and Apple with piles of cash justify not giving raises or passing laying off people. I understand that you want to be smart with your money but if I'm on the business end of this decision it probably hurts more than getting laid off from a company that's struggling and has no other options.

> with piles of cash justify not giving raises or passing laying off people

Probably for the same reason that you don't give to me your cash left over after expenses and taxes.

Laying off people is just a tool to get rid of low performers and cut costs. From the article:

"A manager in one unit making cuts said his team was briefed that Bezos and the Amazon brass wanted to put more pressure on managers to weed out lower performers and enforce spending discipline after the rapid growth of recent years."

Layoffs seem kinda shitty, but it's usually better than firing with cause. The worker will still qualify for unemployment benefits, and the employer doesn't have to go through the time and expense of a PIP (Performance Improvement Plan).

From watching friends, for higher end jobs? you are almost never terminated 'with cause' - I don't know even one programmer who got fired from a fully paid programming job (I mean, a job paying six figures, not a "shadow IT" gig.) who has gotten fired in a way they couldn't collect unemployment insurance, even after a PIP.

For low end jobs, retail and the like? it's pretty common to be fired 'with cause.' even for small things that I do twice a week, like being late or something.

I suspect that it's because employers only pay unemployment insurance on the first $7K or so of wages they pay an employee in a year, so while an increase in their unemployment insurance rate matters if they are paying retail rates, it really doesn't if they are paying programmer rates.

The funny thing is that I don't think any of my programmer friends would fight it either way; it's not worth the effort. But friends working retail? yeah, sometimes it makes sense to fight it... and their employer actually gets up in court, and argues why this person they paid almost nothing and then fired shouldn't get what amounts to a pittance.

The whole thing seems kind of unfair and messed up.

> The worker will still qualify for unemployment benefits

The worker would qualify for unemployment benefits even if fired for good-faith poor performance. For terminations, only gross misconduct (criminal acts, deliberately failing to work, etc.) is disqualifying.

Yes, I've also been curious about how the rainforest company can get away with treating its employees supposedly not as well as other top tech companies, and other than AWS, I don't know of any special tech they've got going on for them (maybe the stock options carrot is the materialistic but true answer).

Also, surprisingly, both Amazon and Apple aren't really known for prolific OSS contributions according to their size.

>Also, surprisingly, both Amazon and Apple aren't really known for prolific OSS contributions according to their size.

The amzn [0], aws[1], and awslabs[2] github pages combined have 500+ repositories. AWS contributed back to the Linux kernel[3] and Xen[4] for Spectre and Meltdown related things. There are other projects large enough that they are under their own page, like Blox[5]. There's been plenty of others I've stumbled across randomly - this list isn't meant to be exhaustive or even close to it, but just what I personally can think of off the top of my head.

(Disclaimer: I work at AWS, and contribute to an open source project as a portion of my job. This isn't an official post or anything of that nature, and opinions expressed are my own - I'm just a random dude that wants to share that a lot of cool open source stuff happens at Amazon/AWS!)

[0] https://github.com/amzn [1] https://github.com/aws [2] https://github.com/awslabs [3] https://cdn.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v4.x/ChangeLog-4.15.... [4] https://lists.xenproject.org/archives/html/xen-devel/2018-01... [5] https://github.com/blox/blox

Thanks, wasn't aware of that trove of information!

> Also, surprisingly, both Amazon and Apple aren't really known for prolific OSS contributions according to their size.

I can't speak to Amazon, but Apple has quite a few prolific OSS contributions. Off the top of my head there's llvm/clang, cups, swift, GCD, and webkit.

But...but those aren't JS frameworks or used by web devs, so obviously they don't count! /s

I think if they were located in the bay area they wouldn't be able to get away with treating their employees so poorly. It's all about the supply and demand for labor. Outside the bay area, the labor supply and demand are much more inbalance whereas the bay area has limited labor supply due to the housing crisis. On the penninsula there are 4 jobs for every 1 resident, this gives workers a much larger bargaining power.

The Bay area (outside of the bay area) isn't even known for good working conditions. At least if I ask my friends they have a bad picture of it. It's much easier going in other parts of the country. Seattle is just a bit worse.

Apple throws off lots of profits and thus is sitting on lots of cash. (Most of it overseas.)

As you probably know, Amazon profits have been marginal or non-existent. They use the net profit from some businesses to pay for expansion in others. To do that, they have to actually produce net profits in some of their businesses, i.e. keep costs under control. Bezos is using the older retail business to finance his newer, shinier adventures in digital devices. And the layoffs are exactly in the retail business, the cash cow business, to free up more money for shinier things.

It’s the other way around. AWS subsidizes everything.

AWS is not digital devices. Digital devices is Kindle, Kindle Fire, Echo/Alexa, etc.

Q4 results [1] say North America produced $1.7bln in operating income, and AWS produced 1.35bln. When Amazon says "North America", I think they mean "North American retail". So while international retail lost almost a billion dollars, I wouldn't say "AWS subsidizes everything".

[1] https://seekingalpha.com/article/4142526-amazon-com-q4-2017-...

(Edit: Q4 produces more retail profits than other quarters while AWS is probably steadier, so on an annual basis AWS probably produces a larger part of the operating income. But even so, retail has been operating income positive, so AWS isn't "subsidizing everything".

For the whole year AWS web services made more money than the entire retail operation. 4th quarter is usually good for retailers. That is why you have black friday the day the books become black, aka profitable.

They justify it by the same reasoning that any other company justifies a layoff. How much money the company makes does not really factor in, they don't exist for the benefit of society.

> but if I'm on the business end...

How would you justify the raises and keeping the redundant positions -- especially if they were already paid market rates or if they were underperformers?

Over-hiring can be an issue as well. Too many cooks in the kitchen isn't a good thing.

Acc to article, seems like it’s happening in established businesses like Retail. Maybe those old businesses are due for some consolidation?

In last earnings release, Bezos said he’s doubling down on Alexa, which I presume includes increased hiring.

Voice search is already huge and I imagine it may be even bigger. I see Amazon as a threat to Google in this area.

> Amazon as a threat to Google in this area.

LOL. That is like saying Apple (iPhones) are a threat to Google (Android) when it was Apple that first brought touch-based smartphones to market.

You probably meant: "Google is a threat to Amazon in this area" because Amazon invented and still dominates the smart speaker category.

In other words, Google didn't know a market existed for such devices until Amazon created a market for them.

Amazon might have been the first to launch a dedicated device that can do voice search but Google was doing it(on Android) before such a device was launched by amazon.

Looks like people are completely ignoring the context of my response.

The context in the grandparent was Alexa (i.e. voice search at home) which is much much narrower than voice search in general.

Here's an excerpt of Jeff Bezos' statement regarding doubling down on Alexa so its clearer this is not about voice search in general or on smartphones but on their smart home devices using Alexa:

“We’ve reached an important point where other companies and developers are accelerating adoption of Alexa. There are now over 30,000 skills from outside developers, customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa, and we’re seeing strong response to our new far-field voice kit for manufacturers. Much more to come and a huge thank you to our customers and partners,"


Right, but were their efforts successful? That's the main difference here, bringing a new product to market successfully.

Long before voice assistants/search became a thing with smart phones there was Google 411 ... which no one remembers.


Yes, they had been successful with voice search long before Alexa ever came out, and continue to do it well. Google is THE search giant, you'd have to be acting intentionally obtuse to not understand his point.


I'd guess that 20% of Google's mobile queries in 2016 are a few orders of magnitude larger than Amazon's total voice search queries, effectively making Amazon's voice queries a drop in the ocean.

> > Voice search is already huge and I imagine it may be even bigger. I see Amazon as a threat to Google in this area.

> LOL. That is like saying Apple (iPhones) are a threat to Google (Android) when it was Apple that first brought touch-based smartphones to market.

Google brought voice search to the market long before Alexa.

It's true that Google was later than Amazon in incorporating voice search into the smart speaker form factor, which would be relevant if GP had identified the area of concern as “smart speakers” rather than “voice search”.

"Amazon's dominance in the emerging area of voice search is a threat to Google's general dominance in search." (Like the Apple's iPhone platform is a threat to Google, which Google is attempting to counter by promoting Android.)

It's not even about a product category. It's about control of the surface area of interfaces people use. Interfaces that aggregate other services often hang poorly, but if you can build one people seek to use, you can build a brand (a name bound to positive connotations), which becomes a durable and valuable position to control. Mental real-estate in mass awareness is hard-won.

Voice control today is somewhere between gimmick and strictly dominant, depending on the situation and provider. If you consider the trends of interface design from line console to GUI to touch, each used newly-sophisticated tech to become more broadly accessible. With this broadening the stakes go up. I think that explains the proliferation of speaker chatbot products; they are just one front in a larger competition for that space people interact with directly. That particular front may or may not turn out to matter in the long run. Concurrent battle sites are car integrations and streaming devices/USB-sticks for TV's. This is why these same companies keep showing up to the same battlefronts with more or less equivalent strategies (semi-shiny new interface tech that happens to funnel you into their marketplace regime); they all want to be your concierge at the ready, in order to steer economic activity.

That is like saying Apple (iPhones) are a threat to Google (Android) when it was Apple that first brought touch-based smartphones to market.

Palm and Microsoft (through OEMs) both released touch-based smartphones years before the iPhone. They were very popular in the military, government, and legal markets, though a distant #2 and #3 to Blackberry (which did not release a touch-capable device until after the iPhone).

Do you have links to back up your claim? Palm's first touch screen smartphone effort was released in 2009 [0]. Not that it matters considering the original discussion was Google vs Apple.

Anyway, PDAs were a different device category from smartphones and many of them required a stylus for input like the HP iPAQ which ran Windows Pocket PC.

IIRC, the iPhone keynote talked about how they did away with the stylus because people frequently lost them so I wouldn't equate stylus-input PDAs with finger-input smartphones even though both device categories technically use touch-screens.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebOS

Your link doesn't disprove my point. Did the LG Prada run Windows Mobile/Phone, Palm webOS or any mainstream OS for smartphones?

That’s a silly question since it predates most of those operating system it was a smartphone it’s like saying that the iPhone didn’t run a mainstream operating system same goes for Android which is true when they came out they weren’t mainstream Symbian was the closest thing to mainstream at the time.

Surveys show that Alexa is being used for basic Siri 1.0 searches ("What's the weather","Play x on Pandora", timers, alarms, novelty questions) and little else. Few people have activated a skill or ordered something. A graphical user interface is going to be a vastly richer and more useful interactive experience for a very long time.

> Few people have activated a skill or ordered something.

As far as I know, I cannot enable a skill on my echo dot itself. I have to do it through the app. This is friction that I don't need to tell you is bad for engagement. I wager Amazon's first mover advantage is very much over stated.

If you know the exact skill, you can just say “Enable Jeopardy skill”.


I don't mind that so much. My issue with skills is that there is a very limited number of incantations that I can keep in my head to summon the correct behavior from Alexa.

I could see these devices given way free as some kind of set-top+assistant if you buy our TV service.

Heck, I've had power companies offering google home for free if I select a green energy provider.

It's always astounded me how a technology change can kill a company overnight. Google almost died with searches going mobile but somehow bought Android and survived but killed BlackBerry. Now voice search is a risk.

That's a bit revisionist.

Google saw a tiny but steady rise in mobile searches and realized they needed to become mobile focused. They acquired a startup called Danger Inc. which brought in Andy Rubin who helped birth their Android efforts.

Rubin saw just how good the iPhone was then threw out their work to start from scratch [1] before they eventually put out their first device: the Android G1. Steve Jobs was furious at the similarities with the iPhone because he had gotten firm promises Google would not copy the iPhone in their phone efforts. Eventually, Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple's board when it was clear both companies would be competing head on in mobile.

[1] https://amp.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-on-android-founde...

Google did not buy Danger. They bought Android which was started by ex Danger founder Andy Rubin. Microsoft bought Danger and released an awful device after doing so. I had to add that last bit.

On that bit of history, I stand corrected.

Thanks for pointing it out.

Could this be in any way related to the roll out of HQ2? Using that expansion to trim perceived dead-wood?

If so, this might be the first of a few re-orgs.

It seems like the point of HQ2 is to appease the current administration for tax cuts, allow for them to cut back on the fact they overexpanded their teams, get even more tax breaks from the local government where they expand, and get a bunch new fresh talent that can be worked to death.

Considering they have over 4,000 active job postings for Seattle and are building several new office towers... No.

At first I assumed this was a stack ranking type "cutting the dead weight loose" move but doesn't appear to be so. The article cites "too much staff for the work" but that seems strange; Amazon has never been bereft of ambition ("Think Big"). What would be the real strategic impetus for slashing hundreds of positions? How does this jibe with leadership principles like "Hire and Develop the Best" and "Insist on the Highest Standards"?

Another leadership principle is frugality. No idea who or why people were fired, but could be to save $. I know that amazon in general is trying to get more frugal / profitable

>"Insist on the Highest Standards"?

Don't maintain costs that that aren't adding net value?

Roll-out of NLP/SR/TTS ML system automating most of customer interaction? If you are a seller on Amazon, it already feels like talking to bots when you hit some issues, maybe they can now automate most of those issue types?

From the article it looks like duplication between acquisitions.

So why do they want a second corporate headquarters?

They have very nearly exhausted the pool of strong technical talent that can be recruited locally within the seattle area, who are not already gainfully employed at some other tech company. Also because building new office campus space in Seattle is becoming a bottleneck. Amazon is spread out through a bunch of temporarily leased buildings until the new towers are finished. Also they have sort of exhausted the number of people who are willing to relocate to Seattle.

On the "talent pool exhaustion" idea: it's common knowledge that almost no one goes to Amazon with the intent of staying there long-term. From what I gather, they're still grappling with people staying just long enough to get a healthy chunk of material benefits before moving on to work that they actually might _want_ to do (helped by having Amazon listed on their resume).

Amazon's reputation as a caring, paternalistic employer is also very well known in the Seattle area. Most of their new employees are imports for that reason, brought in ignorant and tethered by relocation expenses.


1st the Lure: bonu$ with first month check + $10K+ in relo

2nd the Hook: 6 month blushing period

3rd the Sinker: layoff old team, give threatening overtures and about lost trust and missed deliveries

Meanwhile everyone is in a 12-month lease, certainly spent the relocation, and definitely not in the mood to relocate again. Anyone that dipped into that bonus is really hooked, anyone that didn't is annoyed at the thought of giving up their signing bonus to cover relocation which would make the whole venture a wash.

So yeah, the further away from Seattle recruits are from the better. Luckily Seattle's geographic location enhances this. Ironically, an east coast HQ2 would probably weaken this trapping mechanism for all but foreign labor who are verily fucked no matter what thanks to visa,H1B,L1 fun.

Also, a lot of the people who were willing to relocate to Seattle are reluctant to stay after years of worsening ostracization and seething resentment.

For me personally, I cannot ever relocate to Seattle because of the weather. I live in Boston, which has its own issues, but at least it's often sunny during the winter and I can get out for a walk most days.

I have a lot of family around Seattle and have visited frequently. One year I visited in May and it rained nonstop, oscillating between a soft drizzle to a torrential downpour, for 10 straight days! Too depressing for me.

I encourage everyone in the Seattle area to constantly remind everyone of how much it rains. Hopefully it will slightly cut down on the number of Californians moving to the PNW.

As a long time Seattle resident the only way to make it through winter without becoming depressed is to take up skiing, kiteboarding or some other sport that is fun and gets you outside in winter. Additionally, a two week vacation to Hawaii or another sunny location is also a must. Otherwise SAD will start to ruin you by the time March rolls around. Last year was brutal as we only had 11 clear days between October and May.

i live on the other side of the mountains, its usually nice an sunny over here for most of winter, but much colder. We also have much hotter summers and forest fires in the late summer, but hey, no grey gloom.

this is funny because a solid ten weeks last summer was a grey gloom caused by forest fires, at least as viewed in kittitas and yakima counties.

Perception is a funny thing. Average annual precipitation for each city and sunny days per year:

Boston: 43.76in / 137 days

Seattle: 34.1in / 152 days



People do form weird perceptions, especially from short trips to places they don't know well, but your numbers are wrong.

137/152 are the number of days w/ precipitation, not sunny days. ie, Seattle has less rain, but more days of precipitation. This is typical comparing Seattle with many other cities: less rain total, but spread over more days.

Those more days are concentrated in winter, more so than in is typical in other parts of the country. If you look at the "hours of sunshine" stat over a whole year in your links, the typical seasonal change people complain about in the PNW is right there: Apr - Sep are similar, but Nov - Feb Seattle gets half as much hours of sun.

The concentration of gloomy drizzly days in winter is quite real.

It also doesn't help that the Seattle rises so late and sets so early for a couple of months during the winter, leading to more feelings of gloom.

From the same dataset:

Hours of sunshine during winter months (Dec + Jan + Feb): Boston: 464 Seattle: 235 (-50%)

Annual hours of sunshine: Boston: 2615 Seattle: 2019 (-23%)

so it's accurate to say that Boston is sunnier than Seattle and much sunnier during the winter.

And that's not silicon valley... say Mountain View, CA: - 560+ hours during winter months - 3,070 annual


I live in Bellevue (across the lake from Seattle), and get out for walks everyday with my 1 year old. Sometimes I have to put a rain guard over his stroller, but the rain is almost always light enough that I don't need to even bother with an umbrella for myself.

Rain in May is a bit weird (only 1.9 inches on average according to wiki), torrential down pours in Seattle are even weirder, especially outside of October/November.

EDIT: Ok, I get it...I get it.

I moved to Seattle almost 2 years ago now. My main reasons for wanting to leave are the 9 sunless months per year and I feel a little put off by people. I can't put my finger on it, its very nuanced.

Hmm, also in Seattle and seem to recall a record long summer last year with 100+ days of no rain (well, one which just managed to trip it by volume at SEATAC in the middle).

Personally, I think the whole 'Seattle has horrible' weather is pretty overblown. It's grey for a couple of months.

I'm writing this now, in February, to a perfectly blue sky. It is cold, but not grey in the least.

I've personally found it more challenging that folks don't seem to socialize much. They just work non-stop throughout the week, then perhaps do something on the weekend. It contrasts quite a lot to when I was in New Zealand where you frequently see your friends after work.

"Grey for a couple of months"? Are you an Amazon recruiter? Seattle had nine sunny days over a five-month period last year. It's objectively one of the grayest places in the US. Without the perfect summers we'd be fools to live here.

I moved here from Boston. It isn't even a comparison for me. Boston would basically shut down as a city multiple times a winter, roads would get blocked multiple times (and the trains would shut down), the general temp during the main 4ish month stretch of "winter" is a solid 30F lower, and with the windchill it can be actually physically painful to be outside even when properly dressed.

More sun is great, but I prefer regular drizzles at 40F to a clear sky in the single-digits punctuated by massive blizzards.

The cool, grey, gentle weather is part of what I love about this place!

Seattle summers are basically a drought. Winter is where all the rain comes, and even then it is only about average (notable because it is concentrated in time and fairly continuous but light). Still, native Seattlites will up play the rain issue to keep outsiders away, hehe (Portland and Vancouver, BTW, get more rain than Seattle).

> I feel a little put off by people. I can't put my finger on it, its very nuanced.

New York: aggressive aggressive

Seattle or Vancouver: passive aggressive

Eventually, as in SF, they will be in the majority and will take over, after which they can ostracize the people who resent them.

Before Amazon the resentment was directed at Microsoft employees, and before that Boeing employees.

Sadly we see tech as a threat more often than a promethean fire for the mankind.

Well I guess fire is a kind of chaos itself.

I wonder what type of positions are being targeted in these layoffs? They mentioned which groups but not whom.

My understanding is that most groups outside of Alexa and AWS are in a hiring freeze and they are trying to cut down on the amount of middle-management across the board.

Can confirm, the recruiter spam I get is now only Alexa and AWS - the retail section has all but stopped.

That's pretty terrible because their retail site still needs a lot of work. Sort by stars has always been broken and the problems with counterfeit products and fake reviews needs to be dealt with.

I think it's a safe assumption that search isn't broken, it's just presented whatever way optimizes revenue while still using your choice of sort column as a guideline to keep it from being too blatant a lie.

It's broken from a usability standpoint. "Search by average stars" will give me pages and pages of 5-star products with tiny numbers of ratings before I'll see what I really want: a product with 1,000 ratings and an overall rating of 4.9.

Maybe Bezos decided that on that front mediocre is good enough and decided to move on to other sectors where the competition is more astute than in retail...

I think all positions (SDEs, Business Managers, Marketers) in Amazon's oldest retail businesses (books, consumer electronics, kitchen, home etc.). These are businesses where Amazon has significant market segment share (for example, according to some research out there, in books it is ~80%). So it is natural to think: how many people do you need to keep the lights on? Maybe 5 years ago these businesses needed 100s of people, but with with 80% market segment share, do these businesses need the same number of people? My thinking if I were Jeff would be: If I reduce head count in these businesses, how much more free cash flow would I generate (assuming there is not much room left for these businesses to grow)? In other words, in businesses where I have the highest market segment share, how many people do I need to continue to keep that share. And, if people can be moved elsewhere to higher growth areas, then why not? If I need to move them back to books and electronics at some point in the future, I will.

Disclaimer: I'm an Amazon employee, but the comments here are my own.

Also worth noting that the article doesn't say anything about re-hiring, or transferring. Just laid off. I wonder why..

it does

“As part of our annual planning process, we are making head count adjustments across the company — small reductions in a couple of places and aggressive hiring in many others,” a spokesman said. “For affected employees, we work to find roles in the areas where we are hiring.”

disc: Amazon employee

They may be falling into the short term trap of wall street. With all the praise on Jeff Bezos recently, he will have to do anything to not take a step back and keep up with wall street’s expectations.

Well, the whole thing with Amazon is "frugality." That's a frugal thing to do.

lol. Amazon employs almost half-million people, and still, a layoff of a couple hundred make it to the news.

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