Amazon CEO and co-founder Jeff Bezos has reacted in an internal memo to a New York Times article that has been critical of the company’s ruthless work culture.
According to a report on The Verge, Bezos said in the memo that he does not recognise the Amazon that New York Times is talking about in its article. In the memo, Bezos links to the NYT piece and another piece by an Amazon employee on LinkedIn which is a very different take from highly damning NYT story.
Bezos goes on to note, “The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. But if you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR. You can also email me directly at email@example.com. Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.”
He adds that the New York Times piece implies that Amazon has been built with an idea to create a
“soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard,” a description that he disagrees with.
Bezos also says that he does not think any company that is so horrible could survive in today’s
“competitive tech hiring market”.
“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,” he says towards the end of his memo.
The New York Times piece which is nearly 5000 words long, has been written by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld points out at Amazon there is a cut-throat culture of competition and that employees who fall behind for personal or even serious health reasons find that they are given a raw deal.
The NYT story has interviewed several senior and former Amazon employees each of whom have given anecdotal evidence about how at Amazon, the customers are truly first, often at the cost of the personal well-being of its employees. The story also points out Amazon encourages team members to evaluate each other which often results in back-stabbing, accusations. Also those who cannot give long hours to their work life are seen as weak.
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The main crux of the article is that Amazon is not an easy place to work with and that this culture has the sanctioning of founder Jeff Bezos himself. The full New York Times article can be read here.
Predictably the article has seen a lot of interest and reactions on social media. It even sparked a post by a current Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu, who is the Head of Infrastructure Development, Amazon.com Search Experience (SX) on LinkedIn. Bezos has mentioned his article in the memo.
Cibuotariu, who has worked at the company for 18 months, disagrees with the NYT piece which he says is full of bias. For instance the part where NYT says that new hires are “told to forget the ‘poor habits’ they learned at previous jobs,” Cibuotariu says this is false.
He adds, “Amazon shares tons of ‘habits’ with many other companies, and we hire the best people from those companies because we want to learn from their experience.” You can read his full post here.
Given how damning the NYT report is on Amazon and it’s workplace environment, the reactions to this piece, both from current and former employees are likely to continue for some time.