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.
... The very first sentence of the article:
> as the company shifts resources into fast-growing areas like its work on voice assistant Alexa
I prefer the overcast & rainy unless it's summer/spring.
Recruiter: we think you would be a good match for this position
Me: you realize that I live in Los Angeles, right?
Also prefer to build products in Seattle winters; celebrate releases in the spring and summer.
Plus, no snow unless you want it- then you drive to the mountains.
I guess SAD is a thing. Is there an anti-SAD?
I think your body just notices the (smaller) temperature and sunlight fluctuations.
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.
This is in fact how most business decisions are made.
Surely with half a million employees you have at least one person on lightbulbs.
Or you can just ask Alexa to turn the lights.
Welcome to centralized economic planning, mega-corp edition. Pick a number.
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.
They work at Amazon, probably doesn't have the time to read full articles
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.
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.
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.
I wouldn't be surprised if these lay offs were also chosen to increase average employee quality.
This seems like no big deal for Seattle and Amazon.
even less than 1%
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.
Probably for the same reason that you don't give to me your cash left over after expenses and taxes.
"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).
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 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.
Also, surprisingly, both Amazon and Apple aren't really known for prolific OSS contributions according to their size.
The amzn , aws, and awslabs github pages combined have 500+ repositories. AWS contributed back to the Linux kernel and Xen for Spectre and Meltdown related things. There are other projects large enough that they are under their own page, like Blox. 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!)
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.
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.
Q4 results  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".
(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".
How would you justify the raises and keeping the redundant positions -- especially if they were already paid market rates or if they were underperformers?
In last earnings release, Bezos said he’s doubling down on Alexa, which I presume includes increased hiring.
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.
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,"
Long before voice assistants/search became a thing with smart phones there was Google 411 ... which no one remembers.
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.
> 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”.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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  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.
Thanks for pointing it out.
If so, this might be the first of a few re-orgs.
Don't maintain costs that that aren't adding net value?
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.
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.
Boston: 43.76in / 137 days
Seattle: 34.1in / 152 days
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.
Hours of sunshine during winter months (Dec + Jan + Feb):
Seattle: 235 (-50%)
Annual hours of sunshine:
Seattle: 2019 (-23%)
so it's accurate to say that Boston is sunnier than Seattle and much sunnier during the winter.
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.
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.
More sun is great, but I prefer regular drizzles at 40F to a clear sky in the single-digits punctuated by massive blizzards.
New York: aggressive aggressive
Seattle or Vancouver: passive aggressive
Well I guess fire is a kind of chaos itself.
Disclaimer: I'm an Amazon employee, but the comments here are my own.
“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