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Bezos-Owned Newspaper Not So Sure That Working For Bezos Could Be That Bad

Illustration for article titled Bezos-Owned Newspaper Not So Sure That Working For Bezos Could Be iThat/i Bad

The Washington Post, a newspaper and online media outlet owned by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is really skeptical of claims that working at Amazon could be so bad. “Is it really that hard to work at Amazon?” the paper asks.


After the New York Timeswithering story about terrible working conditions at Amazon was published this weekend, Amazon PR very quickly circulated a hastily assembled counterpoint from a manager at the company. Later, Jeff Bezos sent an email to employees claiming that the Amazon represented in the article wasn’t the Amazon he knew.

The actual WaPo story is more balanced than the headline implies, and features plenty of the horror stories. But that headline sure gives the weak denials plenty of oxygen. The headline kinda says it all, y’know?

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Sorely Vexed

My experience with Amazon is fairly limited, since I didn’t accept the job (it was a senior position on the technology side of the Kindle team), but many of the “Amazon values” came through loud and clear during the long and tortuous interview process.

It was clear that my boss-to-be was very enamored of his “I fire the bottom 10% every year” policy, as if it was the business discovery of the decade. He was also big on ensuring I knew that I’d be expected to do “whatever it takes” to make Amazon a success.

They were also clear that they underpay the market on salary, expecting performance-based share awards to more than make up the difference. Of course, those shares would only be of value if the Amazon stock price went up, so the pressure was clearly on everyone to make sure it did.

Interestingly, everyone I spoke to was much less specific about what my job would actually be. There were, as far as I could work out, three roles I’d be suited for, but their attitude was “just join us and we’ll figure it out when you’re onboard.” This seemed really strange for such a senior appointment.

In the end, I decided the alarm bells were a bit too loud, so I refused the job offer. I was then bombarded with emails and calls, demanding how I could refuse them “after everything has gone so well.” I explained that I thought I’d be a better fit elsewhere and was already considering another offer. The HR person’s response was classic, “You didn’t tell us you were looking at other companies. I think that’s very unethical.” WTF?

Reading the NYT article, I think I made the right decision, but I can’t claim that Amazon wasn’t upfront about what a madhouse the place is. I knew what I’d be getting myself into.