Amazon boss Jeff Bezos defends company’s workplace culture

The world’s biggest online retailer is firing back against reports of an abusive corporate culture.

A New York Times report over the weekend described a demanding and degrading environment at Amazon.

Amazon’s boss Jeff Bezos wrote in a memo to staff that the “article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know”.

The New York Times article quoted one former employee who said: “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

  • Hey, Bezos is a flaming liberal. What did you expect?

    Those at the top always know better.

    Never try to tell them anything.

  • Everyone Else

    Amazon is above the law.

    I had a subscription to IMDB Pro (owned by Amazon) paid through a Visa card. They said my card was about to expire and to send the new expiry date. I didn’t answer because I didn’t want to renew. They sent three email warnings and I ignored them all.

    To my astonishment, they went ahead and charged me anyway – with an expired card.

    I complained to my bank and they said talk to Amazon. They didn’t want to mess with Amazon because Amazon is bigger than any bank and brings tons of credit card business.

    • That’s evil.

    • WalterBannon

      Call your bank back and tell them you intend to file a fraud complaint against them if they do not handle it.

      Then call Amazon and tell them you wish to speak with their in house legal council about a complaint of wire fraud that you are filing against them with the FBI.

      • Everyone Else

        I sent them an email and they cancelled the charge.

        Another of their tricks is not to reply by email, but through a chat on a web page. I think they do it because the customer has no chat record unless he/she copies and pastes each time.

    • disqus_W6sf

      That just happened to me with Sirius XM radio. They’re changing the rules on us without telling us.

  • Dana Garcia

    How would Bezos know anything about his employees’ workplace experience? He’s too busy plotting flying robots (aka drones) to deliver stuff.

    • You get that rich and you start to believe your PR.

      • Dana Garcia

        That’s what happens.

  • WhiteRabbit3

    “A 2013 survey by PayScale, a salary analysis firm, put the median employee tenure at one year, among the briefest in the Fortune 500. Amazon officials insisted tenure was low because hiring was so robust, adding that only 15 percent of employees had been at the company more than five years.”
    That is insane. I have no idea how a company can function when it’s constantly losing knowledgeable people.

    • That is bizarre. This is not the first expose of amazon, it’s European warehouse operations are apparently hellish to work at as well.

    • luna

      Thanks for the info. I had suspected Amazon could be a hostile work environment, but was not aware of these reports.

    • El Martyachi

      Because it’s a fucking meat grinder like most outfits, that’s why. Ya just keep plugging in fresh people disposable cognitive units as they burn out. Everyone is replaceable.

      WHY it’s a meat grinder is the bigger question.

  • David Murrell

    One should be suspicious about any NYT news article. But there must be gains of truth in this piece. I am a conservtive, but there is no excuse for a negative work environment. Bob Smith on this thread says Bezos is a liberal. So it is good to see liberals eatIng their own.

  • Hard Little Machine

    I read and reread that piece and we discussed it in the family. I don’t believe we’re getting 100% of the picture here. God knows it looks like a pulled a service model handbook off the shelf at Auschwitz but the question you have to ask yourself is why DO they even stay, even for a week? If they’re that smart and that driven what’s the allure? Any article about the workplace that doesn’t talk about money is screwing with you. They are getting paid to put up and burn out.

    And once you go outside the IT industry or the tech industry this model doesn’t look so odd. EVERY management consultancy works like this. McKinsey invented this, BCG operates this way, KPMG operates this way too. EVERY law firm with partners operates this way. Every big and not so big Wall St. firm operates this way. Ad agencies to some extent still work this way.

    Why? Because they hold out the promise of equity. If you survive and they pick you for partnership you can be a millionaire and your workload instantly drops by half as long as you can bring in new clients and new business.

    The only thing different about Amazon is that there are no partnerships. There’s still equity but it’s stock equity and you don’t have partnership stability and security in the company. So what the Amholes and Amabots are striving for is that tier of management where they start dumping lots of stock grants on you. If you win then you can stick around the required vesting period then jump ship with millions of dollars in your pocket.

    That’s the only reason they stay. And you have to keep in mind that anyone in a large brutal corporate ‘culture’ quickly adopts blinders. They stop thinking that there are viable options they can move to on their own volition. All they focus on is the next staff meeting the next screaming match.

    I can remember years ago interviewing for a boutique management consultancy. 12 people 12 interviews. Each and every one of them had one thing to talk about. ‘Can you work the long hours? Can you put in 100+ hrs a week? Our half day is 9-6 on Sunday.’ I was there for the day so I didn’t walk out, but the last interview was with one of the only two principles – a husband and wife team. He picked at the same thing – ‘Can you bill 100-120hrs a week without exception?’. My response (I was in my 20’s) was “Sure I can do that, but why should I do it for YOU w/o a piece of the business. Give me 5% of the company I’ll fucking live here.” As it turned out they were pumping up billing in preparation for a sale of the company to Peat Marwick at which point the happy couple stuffed their luggage with cash, dumped them in the back of the ‘Vette and drove away. The firm was purchased and absorbed and shut down as an independent entity in a year. None of the drone who sacrificed their lives survived it.

    Similarly I interviewed once with a software firm and the first words out of the manager’s mouth were “Are you divorced? Do you want to be?” I bought a Harley last year and I haven’t been home once to ride it!”

    Similarly back in the ’80’s when it still existed, the Wall St firm Saloman Bros, wanted to bring cots in for the programming staff because the dept head didn’t think it was a productive use of human resources to allow people to go home. Down the street at Merrill Lynch one of the division chiefs was a silent partner in a programming body shop so what he did was he pushed the employees so hard they quit so he could hire his own contractors for the job.

    And therein in the other and last point of contention. Amazon is like any other tech firm. What they truly want is a company with ZERO American citizen employees. What they want is nothing but H1B’s and offshoring to shave a few dollars off of their expense line. If they can get the work 3 or 4 people out of each person until they keep over and die, all they plan to do is replace that one with 2 or 3 Asians who will cost them in aggregate half as much.

  • BillyHW

    If you don’t want people to cry on the job, there is a simple solution: Don’t hire women.

  • The__Hammer

    FWIW I have a good friend who works in MGO at Amazon head office in Seattle and he loves it there.