Amazon, a trillion-dollar firm that employs some of the brightest minds in engineering and logistics and has the power to upend entire industries just by announcing its possible encroachment into them, just wants to be liked. And like any well-adjusted people-pleaser, it keeps copious notes on the haters who just can’t stand to see it succeed.
Specifically, the Wall Street Journal reports that during the HQ2 spectacle in which Amazon tried to hold a country-wide deathmatch for which city it would deign to build a satellite office in, the company kept a “burn book” of its New York detractors.
For a bit of recap: In 2017, Amazon announced its intention to build a second headquarters and turned the proceedings into a game show where cities sought to out-grovel one another. Eventually, New York City and a suburb of Washington, DC, were chosen, suggesting to critics that the whole thing was a cynical ploy to extract better subsidies from preselected locales. As a result, it also backfired by providing the general public with increased insight into how corporate handouts work in this country.
While Crystal City, Virginia’s legislature welcomed Amazon without incident, New York politicians and labor organizers successfully pushed back on the contentious plans. And as that fight dragged on, the Journal claims, Amazon kept an eight-page bullet-pointed document titled “NY Negative Statements.”
It’s not clear from the Journal’s reporting how many names occupied Amazon’s tear-soaked burn book, though it seems three of the deal’s most outspoken opponents—Jimmy Van Bramer, deputy leader of the New York City Council, and State Senator Mike Gianaris, as well as Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Applebaum—made appearances. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo, who championed HQ2 right up until it was politically inconvenient, reportedly avoided this impromptu shitlist.
We reached out to Amazon to see if this is standard practice and who else Bezos’s empire might have considered a big mean meanie. We don’t expect a thorough reply, but if you have inside information on the HQ2 debacle feel free to reach out via email, Twitter DM, Keybase, or Secure Drop.
Update 9:04pm ET: “This document was a briefing paper that had public statements about the project to help executives prepare for the next city council hearing,” an Amazon spokesperson told Gizmodo, “to call it anything more is a gross exaggeration.”