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Amazon’s New York Times Exposé: The Two Faces Of Empire

Darwinian dungeon or engine of ingenuity? 8/17/2015 11:00:00 AM Eastern
Take Away

Amazon, which ranked third on TWICE's combined CE/Majap Retail Top 100, also made headlines several summers back when warehouse workers were felled by triple-digit temps inside non-air-conditioned facilities.

Yesterday’s blistering New York Times report on life at Amazon.com, and the measured response by a surprised CEO/founder Jeff Bezos, paint strikingly different portraits of the corporate culture at the e-commerce giant.

The Times piece, based on interviews with past and present employees, including Kindle and Fire phone crew, describes a Darwinian workplace where around-the-clock hours are table stakes and ratting out colleagues is encouraged.

Interestingly, the crucible culture it depicts also represents a projection of Bezo’s own personality, whose reputation for curtness bordering on cruelty, and reliance on analytics and algorithms to gauge everything from product pricing to employee productivity, is well documented.

But Bezos, in an e-mailed response to employees – as well as infrastructure development head Nick Ciubotariu, in a LinkedIn essay – expressed surprise over the critique.

“The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day,” Bezos wrote. “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 also encouraged his workers to read the Times article and to report to him directly (at jeff@amazon.com) any instances of callous management practices.

What do you think, Amazon vendors and third-party sellers? Drop us a line at awolf@nbmedia.com, or leave your comments, pro or con, anonymous or otherwise, in the Talkback box below. We’d love to hear your take.

Take Away

Amazon, which ranked third on TWICE's combined CE/Majap Retail Top 100, also made headlines several summers back when warehouse workers were felled by triple-digit temps inside non-air-conditioned facilities.

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