Amazon was a purely political environment where, if you weren't watching your back you'd get stabbed and become a rung in someone else's ladder. In our group, the manager had zero engineering experience (literally had gone to college to be a prison guard, somehow ended up "managing" programmers, though barely computer literate.) In fact, it was so bad that when I'd finally had enough, and quit (because my transfer to the AWS team was blocked by the prison guard) I vowed never to work for anyone else, ever again. Which means, I had to do a startup.
Anyway, the SOA effort was in full swing when I was there. It was a pain, and it was a mess because every team did things differently and every API was different and based on different assumptions and written in a different language.
But I want to correct the misperception that this lead to AWS. It didn't. S3 was written by its own team, from scratch. At the time I was at Amazon, working on the retail site, none of Amazon.com was running on AWS. I know, when AWS was announced, with great fanfare, they said "the services that power Amazon.com can now power your business!" or words to that effect. This was a flat out lie. The only thing they shared was data centers and a standard hardware configuration. Even by the time I left, when AWS was running full steam ahead (and probably running Reddit already), none of Amazon.com was running on AWS, except for a few, small, experimental and relatively new projects. I'm sure more of it has been adopted now, but AWS was always a separate team (and a better managed one, from what I could see.)
Regarding Bezos's micromanagement: I do remember, one fall, in the run up to christmas, surfacing an issue with the site several times. My manager told me that his boss didn't want to change it, but I knew it was a bug. I went above his bosses head and told that guy (who was a Bezos report) about it. I even cced Bezos on an email about it, and of course, the VP chewed out his underling who chewed out his boss, who chewed out me.
Then, at 3AM, the night before I was supposed to fly out to visit my parents for thanksgiving at 10AM, I was awakened and made to fix the problem. The problem I'd wanted to fix 2-3 months earlier. The problem I'd gotten chewed out for trying to surface but been told "won't fix" all the way up and down the chain of command. Because Bezos had gone to buy something on the site and had seen the problem himself. So, my thanksgiving trip was ruined, of course, and I had to do it- RIGHT THAT MINUTE- in the middle of the night.
The icing? After fixing it and going back to bed, and coming in the next day (which was a vacation day, mind you, as I was supposed to fly that day...) I got chewed out by my boss for coming in at 10am.
I don't know about you, but if you get woken up at 3am and spend 2 hours coding, you should be allowed to show up for work the next morning at 10am.
Bezos was right that it needed to be fixed. However, he must be a B player because his direct report was a C player who wouldn't let me fix it when it was discovered.
Yeah, I wouldn't recommend you go work at Amazon.
Sorry if I've gotten off topic. It's rare that you can find candid descriptions of what it's like to work somewhere.... since Steve felt free to be candid, I figured I'd share my experiences. I also worked for other large companies, like, for instance, Microsoft. Microsoft was weird in a sort of cult like way, and had its own management problems, but was much more enjoyable... and really treated their employees a whole lot better. At MSFT, hardship was having to share your office with another programmer. At Amazon, I was literally in a hallway, with a dozen other people, with major foot traffic walking past my desk (And right behind my chair) all day long, a lot of noise and a very large window over my shoulder reflecting right into my monitor... all day long.
Worst Job Ever.
Thank you for indulging my venting.
 It wasn't just me either, by the time I left, %60 of the team had already gotten internal transfers or resigned. I was being loyal, and went to HR to try and get some advice or mediation, but despite being promised confidentiality, the notes of my meeting with the HR rep were forwarded to my boss.
 At amazon they have this crazy idea that engineers should have pagers. I'm sure it sounded great at the time. I didn't have the pager that week, but that didn't matter to the boss, who knew I'd been the one to find the issue. So he called me. I think the phone rang for a good 20 minutes before I woke up.
Never let your employer give you a pager, unless you're an ops guy.
 After I left, and after my team was literally decimated by the hostile environment created by our boss, I found out he got promoted! Yep, now he's managing managers.
 Why was the boss up at 3am? Well, Bezos called him, but he'd been up already... he was a hard partier who, just between you and me, also was selling drugs on the side. Most of the stoners in PacMed were getting their bags from him.
True. Offer rejected.
(And you wonder why people are always posting to HN about how they can't hire anyone. The problem is not that people don't want to work for you. The problem is that you can't afford them.)
And I think the general first-world deviation isn't that big either, apart from the Koreans (and to a minor degree, Americans).
It probably varies a lot depending on company culture. A friend working at a startup recently got hi-5's from the bosses when he said he had worked 11 hours a day the entire previous week, no talk about taking compensation leave to rest or anything like that. At my company (not a startup) an 11 hour day would be pretty extreme, and if my boss was aware he would probably insist I come in late the following day.
We do still manage to have a pretty good economic output and some business success stories though, so there might be something to be said for working fewer hours.
From my personal experience I can say these guidelines are not strictly adhered. The young, university educated people I hang out with all work more then 40 hours and take about 20 vacation days and work 40-60 hours, more if necessary.
However I think direct comparison is pretty hard. What does count towards the total amount worked? For example including social drinks in their total biasing the amount upwards.
"Nanny-Culture, Lack of Risk Taking, Not Sharing
What makes Finland such a wonderful place to live and raise a family may ultimately be what kills it as a startup hub."
So e.g. 2 week vacation == 10 work days off.
As for taxes, I'm Norwegian, live in the UK and looked into moving to California. At my income level taxes would end up within 2-3 percentage point of each other regardless of which of the three places I'd live.
Difference being I'd get far more services for my tax money in the UK or Norway.
There certainly are places in the US where you'd pay far less taxes than in almost all of Europe, but far from everywhere.
If not that, it's when they go to the doctor in France and ask about billing and get a funny stare.
Strangely enough, this doesn't seem to have a straight-forward correlation with yearly hours worked. Italians have about the same number as Americans, but 20 mandatory days and quite a lot of Catholic holidays. Koreans and the Greek seam to top that list, although I'm currently not a big believer in Greek statistics…
Plus an additional 6 "personal days".
That being said, I've yet to actually take a vacation day at Amazon, despite regularly getting automated e-mails about it from HR. I send a polite OOTO e-mail to my team and that seems to be sufficient. This may very from team to team and manager to manager.
Other mistake I made-- I'd been working for startups for so long, that I really, really wanted a nice, stable job, where I would be able to put in 40-60 hours a week, and leave my work at home. That's something they pitched me on, too. So, I compromised... I figured, less stress, a little less compensation.
Turns out, it was much more stress. Even if your hours are lower, really bad management can make your life terrible. (and it wasn't just my boss, it was pretty much the whole of engineering management, near as I could tell.)
The depressing thing is, when you do get some time off after pulling long hours for a tough project, it's all done under the table. Amazon is extremely cheap when it comes to off-time, so managers essentially have to put their ass on the line to let their reports get well-deserved downtime.
Kudos to the bosses that do it, but one of the reasons that eventually convinced me to leave was that... things like this shouldn't have to be done with a nudge and a wink.
Oh, wait. I misread that.
And yes, one guy came in and introduced himself as the 'bar-raiser' sat back in his chair and expected me to be somewhat impressed by this.
The way it works at amazon is, if anyone doesn't like you, you're out. It doesn't matter if its relevant or not. It doesn't matter if the person who doesn't like you knows nothing about programming. My boss- the one with the criminal justice degree- would often veto people because they "weren't good programmers". Of course, he had no clue who was a good programmer and who wasn't because he couldn't program!
Sometimes, a person will be angling for the position you're interviewing for. Only, that person will also be included in in the interview loop. They have an incentive to say no, because they want the job.
Inside Amazon, this is called "keeping a high hiring bar". So, they go thru great expense and hassle to bring people in, and then pat themselves on the back when they arbitrarily rule someone out. Saying no, means they're doing their job, keeping that bar high! They once said no to a guy I'd worked with previously, who, as far as I'm concerned, was a much better programmer than me. (Better looking, gets along with people better, etc as well.) I mentioned this to the hiring manager, and he said "We have to keep a high bar!"
How many people do you think want to interview with Amazon again after going thru a 6 hour process like that?
Since their process is completely arbitrary, sometimes they get really great people (god only knows why they stick around-- I think a lot of engineers don't really know their own worth) but they also get a lot of people who randomly rub the right people the right way and get hired. It was completely arbitrary, it seemed to me.
I'm more than capable of recognizing someone who is smarter than I am, and as a rule of thumb I prefer to work with people who are smarter than I am.
Also, as mentioned above, it is harder for many B-level people to recognize and value an A level person in the hiring process. An A may come across as arrogant by describing things as good or bad to a B when they're simply knowledgeable and confident because of that.
There were some A programmers at Amazon, and they were respected, but they weren't the ones who made the hiring decisions. Since any B or C can veto any hire, A people often didn't get hired in favor of B or C people. (and A people who already worked there, eventually, got excluded from hiring loops because they're "needed elsewhere.")
prevents B players from hiring A players
Ego and in a big corporation, the fear of the hire going ahead of you.
Also another deadly combination is the B player who hires another A player thinking they themselves are A+ player and spoils the fun for everybody.
there is some research that shows that your own competence directly affects how good a judge you are of your/others relative competence, i.e. people who are low competence will rate themselves routinely as 9-10 / 10 but people who are high competence will rate themselves 5-6 / 10 ...
> How many people do you think want to interview with Amazon again after going thru a 6 hour process like that?
Not me that’s for sure, and I thought it was very arrogant of them at the time to suggest that I go off and getting some network training on my own time and expense and apply again next year. Like I’ve nothing better to do.
Someone with significant skills is going to have significant self esteem. Are they going to want to put up with being treated that way?
In my day, the "bar raiser" didn't announce it, and so you never knew, if you even knew they did that. Announcing it seems profoundly stupid. And arrogant.
This seems to be true for the vast majority of businesses.
Boot polishing manager's shoes works wonders in many companies. In a lot of places especially large corporates, Managers build their own gang. Loyalties run in the hierarchy throughout their stay in the company.
Now you might be the greatest guy on the team, but if you don't accept the manager as the king you are screwed. Your effort goes down in the drain. You work real hard to prove yourself and you get branded as a bad team player. Yes you are expected, to give away your work to the managers favorite 'kids' in the team.
I see this thing originates very early, even during the interviews itself. Such managers have knack to identify such people. And they generally get hired.
Needlessly to say such managers once in the company won't rest until they have ruined everything they will ever touch. And people whom they hire replicate the same. This continues until the whole company is left to rot.
We interviewed for 4 hours, then broke for a 45 minute lunch (where we were basically interviewed/watched by employees), then interviewed for another 3 hours. Then several of us were taken out for dinner by employees where, duh, we were quasi-interviewed for our social skills. That kind of day is crazy and I never want to do it again.
Amazon seemed to pay pretty good starting salaries. I remember in 2008 losing an intern because we couldn't match the salary.
I mostly don't have responsibilities (family) and 6mo living expenses and supreme self-confidence (aka the perhaps non-rational belief that'll I'll find work or at least make a living no matter what). Because when people try to pull shit like that. I email Bezos and all the people who said won't fix, (paraphrased) "Fuck you, you ignored me months ago when I brought this up. Now I'm ignoring you when you ask me to drop everything and fix this right now! You should fire these incompetent fucks but you will probably fire me. That's fine, this company doesn't deserve me. Happy Holidays"
It amazes me that Amazon managed to be so successful, despite treating their employees so badly.
It certainly matters a lot to them; it matters from a moral point of view; but from a practical point of view the only individuals whose happiness matters are the customers.
Of course, if your employees are so unhappy that they make your customers' life miserable, you have a problem. But Amazon is still very far from that.
Attrition at Amazon is at horrific rates. I know the actual number, though I'm pretty sure that'd violate my NDA to reveal. It's high. It's really high. Guess a really truly terrible number. It's probably higher than that.
The stream of people leaving the company isn't a trickle as it is a well-managed places. It isn't even a modest stream. It's an outright deluge, particularly in this market where everyone else is desperate and willing to pay (protip: Amazon, as a rule, is not).
This is starting to show itself in many places in the company. In a lot of places there are no longer any senior engineers left who know how the system works. In their place are fresh-faced college grads struggling to contend with a system they neither have the experience nor the documentation to maintain, much less extend. The average tenure of the Amazon engineer is embarrassingly short, and coupled with the company's notorious lack of documentation, it means that technical debt is accumulating at an alarming rate.
There are constantly projects to completely revamp/redesign some portion of Amazon's systems. In my observation this is less about an honest improvement over the old system (sometimes there IS no improvement) but rather because nobody knows how the fuck the old thing works. The truly sad thing is, they have trouble keeping engineers around long enough to even see that redesign through.
If you know where to look on Amazon's site, you would see lots of evidence of this already. Extremely deep integration into systems that literally no one still with the company understands. Tons of mission critical code whose original author is long gone, no documentation exists, and in fact the code isn't owned by any team. I've seen many hacks to work around these problems, though I doubt they'd be super apparent to the common Amazon shopper.
The problem here, like many other companies in a similar stage, is that very little of Amazon's management has a technical background at this point. Bezos certainly does, and I still think he's one of the best CEOs in the industry right now, but many of his underlings... not so much. A lot of management do not see this accumulation of technical debt. Difficulties working with said debt is perceived as either "natural" difficulties of working with technology, or worse, incompetence. Amazon's internal existence is a depressing cycle of: hire people, people spend eons learning how the previous guys did it, people write code, people get fed up and leave, hire more people, people spend eons learning how the previous guys did it...
If any Amazonian management is reading, I have one thing I really want to drive home: stop being so fucking "frugal" with equipment. It is a travesty that my development desktop was a Celeron worth $300 on eBay. Not because I like having the newest shiny, because I couldn't even run multiple dev environments on it, like I had to for my JOB, and building my code took 12 full minutes, instead of, say, 3. Stop shitting on your devs with dinky 5 year-old monitors and give them some screen real estate. There are plenty of studies that outright prove the productivity boost that comes with bigger monitors.
If it hasn't hit them yet, it might after the rant.
Given the Dilbert Employer From Hell publicity generated by the rant and the subsequent discussion, I'd say that they might have trouble filling in for the people that leave. Heck, even some of their current employees might read the rant and realize how crappy their current situation is.
Off on a tangent:
"I couldn't even run multiple dev environments on it, like I had to for my JOB, and building my code took 12 full minutes, instead of, say, 3."
Local dev environments? My current workstation has a mere 2GB memory and an Athlon X2 which was all the rage in 2005 :) The builds fly, because they are delegated to a compile farm. The added benefit is that I don't have to muck with the build tools settings.
Amazon has lost a lot of key tech talent, it's been happening since about 2006 when the economy picked up a lot more.
But yet Amazon, product-wise, is fast-moving, innovative, and often right on the money when it comes to what customers want. It's a lot like Apple in that regard.
So it becomes difficult to grok how this seemingly innovative company that has its finger on the pulse of retail (and beyond) can become such a doggish place to work.
It's the ultimate siren call isn't it. It took me two years before I decided throwing myself at that brick wall every day wasn't worth it, cool products or otherwise.
I just don't get it. Monitors are items that survives multiple tech generations, have huge demonstrable benefits (moreso than speedy laptops or pretty offices), and don't even cost much at all! (certainly less than SSDs or high-end MacBook Pros!)
In my book, it means that bean counting has taken over productivity. That's no place to be a software developer.
Maybe this explains why I've been contacted by Amazon recruiters three times over the past three years...
I don't think Bezos has a technical background... I thought he was a hedge fund guy before moving out to Seattle. But I agree with everything else you said.
The funny thing was, when I got hired I was told that they were going to let people use Macs and that it would be a few months. I had my own laptop I was willing to bring in and use, and though they were trailing macs with a few people, I was told I'd be fired if I used my personal mac for work.
So, I had to use a piece of crap HP laptop. The thing was always in the shop. There were many days when I basically lost an entire days worth of work because it would break. They replaced it several times. (and I was babying it.. .it lived on my desk for the most part.)
So, not only could they have had zero costs by letting me use my own machine, but they lost more than the cost of the laptop several times over in lost productivity by me not being able to work when the machine they made me use was in the shop.
And when I left, they still hadn't approved macs (or maybe the IT department decided they were "too insecure" or some BS.)
While I was there, they were constantly starting initiatives and then abandoning them. Like the restaurant menus. The movie schedules. The scanning of mail order catalogs!? They'd start some project, do a press release, then disband the team and never advance the code again... it would just sit there and rot.
I think one of the reasons that most of management there is not technical is that non-technical people are threatened by technical people in that role. Technical people have quite an edge when managing programmers. I think engineers who express an interest in moving to a management role are often perceived as a threat.
Of course there's room for improvement (SSDs, linux desktop, bring your own OS) but IT is aware of the pain points and making the appropriate cases for expenses and head count.
"Bezos graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with degrees in computer science and electrical engineering"
John Doerr (big-time VC) was at some of Amazon's early off-site meetings and he would always talk about how gnarly it was "inside the sausage factory". Meaning that when you knew what was really going on inside a company, nobody would want to work there.
So what can you say about this post posted here 3 years ago. http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=465882. The blog post was down, archive.org didn't help also :). But as far as I remember the blogger was praising about bezos leadership skill. Also comments on HN supported that. I am reading HN for about 3 years. In first two years I never saw this kind of amazon bashing.In fact there was many post praising about amazon's internal culture. How on earth things change so dramatically in last one year. Is there some kind of PR war happening here? Honest question.
Edit: found archive.org snapshot http://web.archive.org/web/20090211060734/http://blog.layer8... .
He may not write code, but I think it would be a mistake to claim he isn't a technologist.
If the rest of the company's management had half the managerial competence of Jeff Bezos, I'd run back to that company with arms wide open.
There has been, and continues to be, massive propaganda efforts from Amazon to try and pitch them to people, and to position Bezos as a visionary in the style of Steve Jobs. In fact, I saw an article the other day comparing the two.
It's nonsense. Bezos, in any other context, would not be a bad person. He's got good management skills, and he has a desire for keeping the quality bar high. But the problem is, he doesn't give a damn about other people.
He's got a very utilitarian viewpoint of other people. Every interaction with them, from his perspective, seems to be about how he can best profit from them. He sees people as resources to be exploited.
I'm a pure capitalist, I don't have a problem with trade, but he's more like a predator.
At least, this is what my interactions with him, and the culture he created at Amazon tell me.
You can sustain such an illusion only for so long, however. In seattle, as far back as at least 1998, everyone know that Amazon was a terrible place to work and an even worse place to do business with (as a supplier, etc.)
I knew that, but I didn't want to believe it, when I took the job.
I do accept responsibility for the stupidity that I displayed in doing that, and in sticking around after I should have left as others have pointed out. I could have avoided this, and should have, by simply holding myself in higher esteem... and never taken that job.
I couldn't help noticing that if you go the Amazon.com page for Isaacson's Steve Jobs bio http://www.amazon.com/Steve-Jobs-Walter-Isaacson/dp/14516485... , you see http://www.amazon.com/One-Click-Jeff-Bezos-Amazon-com/dp/159... on the first page of "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" results; I couldn't help wondering if that placement is solely determined by a computer assessment of what customers also bought. But who knows, maybe it is.
For all the crap I've thrown at Amazon in this thread, if there's one thing they are clean of it's working against their customers. It is, by a very long shot, the most customer centric big company I've ever seen.
I'm pretty convinced this is true in general. I just couldn't help wondering if this one case would be a little too tempting for them. But absolutely, it could be completely on the level.
I think the result of this is that a lot of employees believe it.
I think people generally, want something to believe in.
If you give them something to believe in, and it seems plausible, and especially if its tied to their income, they'll believe it.
And they'll work harder for it.
It worked on me-- that's why I didn't just go back to sleep that night. That's why I stayed on for several months after that, until things became untenable for me. Hell, I was going to stay with the company, I had met the AWS team, had gotten an offer for a position there and was in the process of transferring, and only quit when that transfer was blocked!
In a way, "well run" could mean that you get a lot of work out of your employees, even if they are miserable. I think optimizing for employee happiness can help you, but it isn't necessarily the only way to have high productivity.
- What's my name? (Covering your badge, naturally)
- What am I working on?
- Where am I from?
If the bigwigs can't answer that, I'm sorry, you've moved past actual startup-dom and you're just in la-la land where you just think you are one.
Unfortunately, I only thought of this acid test after leaving a place with 30K employees which had started proclaiming it semi-regularly during their Friday get-togethers.
There're varying degrees of success at this, ranging from "if I squint really hard, I could almost see it" to "Yeah...I don't think so." But I give 'em props for trying, as most companies with 30k employees don't even make the effort.
BTW, I could go all the way up to the VP level within the Search bigwigs and they'd be able to answer this.
Also, if they're public, they're not a startup!
This country really needs a damn visa for technologists, or something.
Anyway, at some point software development became a very popular career choice and so there is an endless supply of warm bodies graduating from colleges each year, all of whom know the Amazon brand and think working there would be really cool.
I was migrating a legacy system to a new platform and we got a call from an irate customer. Apparently, he had just paid us last week but now his account was shut off. The odd thing was, no one I talked to even knew what product he was talking about, or what website he was on. I checked with our payments person, and he had sent us a check, but no one knew what it was for! Eventually I tracked it down to some legacy discontinued product that had been handed off between three successive engineers who left the company, then forgotten.
You don't have to treat your employees well, or even make a good product, to be successful. You just have to get people to give you money.
Most people believe Amazon's press releases. In 2006, they said that AWS powered Amazon.com. It was a flat out lie. But how could I prove it? Fortunately, others there at the time have posted in the thread as well. But come back to HN in a couple weeks when AWS has done their next press release, and say that, and you'll likely be down voted to oblivion.
The thing is, Amazon, and Jeff Bezos are damn good at spin. You see glowing articles that talk about Jeff as if he were a visionary, boldly leading his commerce site into the future of web services. (As I understand it, AWS was pirate operation, which got cover from a politically endowed VP in the company, and they were able to get it far enough along that Jeff saw the value of it, when he'd previously wanted to knife that baby.) Their manipulative ways extend to other people as well.. and when you're getting most of your stuff from them, and you've had good customer services, you naturally inclined to want to believe in them.
People believe Amazon must be good in all ways, because they are good in one way.
Amazon is really, FREAKING, good at fulfillment. Amazon prime, their return policies, their streamlined ordering policies... at this point, ordering things from other websites has so much more friction that they just feel old. "You mean I have to enter my credit card? Why don't you just sell this thing on Amazon.com and let them do it right!"
I don't know how Amazon treats their stockholders. They treat their employees terribly (but they do tend to hire a mix of type-A aggressive and meek. The meek just are grateful to keep their jobs and the Type-As love the political sport). But they treat their customers damn good.
And they have the fulfillment thing nailed cold. I give them respect for that.
But you are disgruntled. You've got excellent reasons for being so. I always wonder why people will use things like that as stoppers for the discussion, the fact that someone is disgruntled alone should not be cause for dismissal, the underlying reasons are what matter. And you've gone over and beyond the call of duty in my opinion here and I am frankly surprised that Amazon manages to operate if they treat their employees like this.
All of the above, and I really don't see the ad hominem in there. It's just a description of a state of mind with respect to another entity.
Example: My girlfriend sat on my Kindle and broke it. I called and said that it was broken. Without any questions they just offered to send me a new one for free! After something like that I will always go back to Amazon (and tell my friends about it)...
That's amazing to me. I thought such things were never done in software anymore because: why not leave the company and do the same thing in your own startup? Same hard work, high risk, etc, but with giant upside. Was it because of something wrong with Seattle's startup culture?
Not only for deep funding pockets, but also for existing relationships. Say you had an idea that would dramatically improve online retail - you can either develop a white-box solution and try to shop it around (and have them clone it out from under you), or you can build your own online retail empire (good luck), or you can join one.
It's part of what got me to stick around AMZN as long as I did. Myself and some colleagues were very much of the internal-entrepreneurial mindset. We developed lots of prototypes, some of which received rave recognition throughout the company. I left after I realized my management chain (can't speak for others) had little to no real interest in turning them into products. They were more than happy to give lip service, trophies, and have me put together presentations on how innovative and scrappy we were, though.
(I've never worked at Amazon, but I'd also heard that AWS was a small skunkworks project that basically got cover from Amazon's CTO, Werner Vogels, who protected and nurtured it until it was too big to kill.)
A lot of this is due to the lack of a VC infrastructure I think. no sand hill road there.
This is not to dispute your observations in any way, shape, or form. Just that it's a huge T-Rex from the outside in terms of objective metrics like products shipped, even if it does have dysfunctional internal organs.
Never forget that.
But for other matters, HR does pursue their own agenda, not yours. It's important to remember.
I left before my first vest as soon as interesting start up showed up (start up didn't survive, but at least it was fun).
(and Google overestimate more than most...)
FWIW, I believe this is the exact kind of thing that glassdoor.com wants to hear.
Also, when I left two years ago they weren't using AWS for anything internally. S3 got a lot of use, but anything considered essential to keeping the site up had to run on real hardware.
That first month after I quit, it was such an amazing feeling not to have to go on call. I agree, never take a pager unless it's an essential part of your job.
Your rant paints a bleak picture, and I hope my experience of the last 2 days was coincidence.
There is your problem right there. Why in your sane mind would you even consider fixing it at that moment? You should have told them to FUCK OFF - right at that minute - and gone back to sleep. Right there and then a loud and sound go fuck a rake and fuck off.
I think, ultimately, it is kind of like an abusive relationship. People stay in them because they are manipulated by the abuser. Amazon has a manipulative corporate culture. It's a little bit like a cult.
I'm actually a bit hesitant to talk about this, even years later, because I expect to be attacked for it. (But I'm still pissed off, years later. And I don't really hold grudges, normally.)
I don't know that I'd actually have the stones for it. But that would be the right choice. I imagine you'd agree, better to get fired, then and there, than be pissed about it for years.
That is exactly what it is. I hope that your posting here will get read by lots of people at amazon that are treated like you were (or worse?) and that it will open their eyes.
One problem of being in an abusive relationship is that you no longer see it as such.
I agree that it is quite like an abusive relationship which is of course why you should get the hell out of there. Nothing you say or do will change the other part in the relationship (amazon in this case) and you should just learn your lessons and move on.
Although your employment at Amazon is not something that you look back on with fond feelings perhaps you can agree that it is something that has taught you a lot and in that regard was a good thing for you?
You don't like politics, but it seems like at some point you have to come to terms with the necessity of politics to effect change in a situation, that is to say if it's worth it. You clearly have an opinion on how things should be done. Bottling that sort of stuff up is toxic.
Anyway, glad you are out of that mess.
You can't make people take responsibility. Hell, Bezos would probably say I should have made the change anyway "You failed to take initiative". But if I had made the change, I would have been fired "You're not a team player".
Asscovering is the rule of the day and its very easy in that environment.
And then this would get noted in your performance review.
Weakness: bias for action.
If I never hear the phrase "Bias for action" again, I'll be happy. (Though I laughed when you used it.)
A bit unfair, don't you think? There have been several HN threads about Amazon in the last few months where former employees chimed in, and nobody has been maligned for it.
I don't consider HN to be a very receptive environment, especially if you're saying anything perceived as "negative" about certain companies, including Amazon, Google, Facebook etc. Though it varies widely, of course.