NYT report: Amazon is hell to work at


The New York Times exposes a brutal, cultlike environment of midnight phone calls, mind-numbing jargon and sadistic management.

Bosses encourage workers to tear one another down. Workers cry at their desks.

In interviews, some said they thrived at Amazon precisely because it pushed them past what they thought were their limits. Many employees are motivated by "thinking big and knowing that we haven't scratched the surface on what's out there to invent," said Elisabeth Rommel, a retail executive who was one of those permitted to speak.

Amazon may be singular but perhaps not quite as peculiar as it claims. It has just been quicker in responding to changes that the rest of the work world is now experiencing: data that allows individual performance to be measured continuously, come-and-go relationships between employers and employees, and global competition in which empires rise and fall overnight. Amazon is in the vanguard of where technology wants to take the modern office: more nimble and more productive, but harsher and less forgiving.

"One of those permitted to speak" is a nice touch!

Amazon did some very strange damage control after the story appeared, telling reporters about a blog post on Linkedin from an adoring Amazon executive that accused the Times of "bias" and "spin".

Step 1: Have bias

Step 2: Find ex-employees with anecdotal stories that fit in with your bias

Step 3: Gather old stories and criticism while glossing over changes made to improve on that, and completely ignore that it's still significantly better than industry practice

Step 4: Take half-truths and spin spin spin!!

Step 5: Publish article

Also, this:
x 2015-08-17 at 8.47.25 AM

Who is being quoted, here? Is he quoting … himself? This utterly deranged response to the story just made things worse, and CEO Jeff Bezos ultimately posted a memo:

The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at jeff@amazon.com. Even if it's rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.

The article goes further than reporting isolated anecdotes. It claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard. Again, I don't recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don't, either. More broadly, I don't think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today's highly competitive tech hiring market. The people we hire here are the best of the best. You are recruited every day by other world-class companies, and you can work anywhere you want.