By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the New York Times article titled Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Ideas in a Bruising Workplace that portends to describe the high-pressure dog-eat-dog white-collar workforce at Amazon. There’s also the rebuttal article by a current Amazon employee and the open letter from Bezos to Amazon employees who concludes:
I strongly believe that anyone working in a company that really is like the one described in the NYT would be crazy to stay. I know I would leave such a company.
But hopefully, you don’t recognize the company described. Hopefully, you’re having fun working with a bunch of brilliant teammates, helping invent the future, and laughing along the way.
Indeed — I would leave such a company too. But to many Amazon employees, past and present, it is that kind of company, which is why Amazon is one of three companies I will never work for1.
I keep hearing the lines “Amazon may once have been like that, but it isn’t like that anymore”. Oh? Living in Seattle, I have many friends who work for Amazon or who previously worked there. I know friends who carry pagers, who are expected to respond to emails immediately regardless if they’re during work hours or at 2am, and who all live in fear of getting an email from Bezos himself.2
I’ve also interviewed, hired, and work with many people who recently left Amazon. These individuals are focused and driven. One was so ready to leave that they happily paid Amazon back moving expenses to be free. And all of their stories back up what the NYT article talks about: Amazon is burning through software developers.
Maybe I’m just old and no longer interested in playing the work-until-you-drop game, but I want to work for a company that understands that my job, while a career I’m interested in growing and am vested in, it isn’t my life. And word on the street is that company isn’t Amazon.
So Amazon, if you are no longer like the company described in the NYT article then you need to convince the rest of the experienced software development community because that’s how you are perceived.
1 And since I know I’ll get asked, the other two are Microsoft and Oracle.
2 Similar to Ellison at Oracle.