On Saturday, the New York Times dropped a scathing exposé, which detailed Amazon’s miserable work environment for white collar workers. This article confirmed how, like Amazon’s warehouse employees, the Seattle campus office workers feel an inhuman pressure to perform at exponential expectations. A whole host of former Amazon marketers and engineers confirmed obligatory 80-hour workweeks. Their families fell by the wayside, and anyone who dared to care for babies or elderly parents was placed on “observation” or probationary status. Those who had the misfortune to suffer from cancer or miscarriages experienced even worse treatment.
Jeff Bezos, who stands as the fifth-wealthiest person on the planet (thanks in part to his company’s management practices), claims to have no idea why more than 100 former employees presented horror stories about his company. He penned an internal office memo, which (of course) leaked into the public’s hands. Bezos claims not to recognize the “shockingly callous management practices” outlined in the NYT‘s article. The letter “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know,” says Bezos, and he encourages employees to speak to HR about any “lack of empathy.” The pep talk continues:
“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.”
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.”
Bezos goes on to encourage all Amazon employees to read “a very different take” from Nick Ciubotariu, Amazon’s head of infrastructure development. On Sunday, Ciubortariu defended his company in a glowing post to LinkedIn. Ciubortariu’s piece enthusiastically rips apart the NYT‘s article on a point-by-point basis. He accuses the paper of an extreme bias and tendency towards article bait while insisting that no one made him devote his weekend to defending Amazon.
Bezos hopes that one hefty LinkedIn endorsement will convince everyone to disregard the 100 employees who told a different tale. Perhaps he’s correct, although millions of Amazon customers will keep ordering at rock bottom prices regardless of any employee account.