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August 17, 2015

Bezos Says He Doesn’t Recognize the Amazon Described in Critical NYT Article

Amazon offices in Leipzig, Germany. Photo by Medien-gbr

Amazon is not a company anyone would want to work for, according to a New York Times report that came out this weekend.

In fact, The Times described the eCommerce giant as a “bruising workplace.”

The well-known publication interviewed more than 100 current and former employees, and came away with some disturbing stories of long hours, constant criticism, sabotage amongst co-workers and unsatisfactory time off to deal with health issues such as cancer or a miscarriage.

One former worker The Times spoke to said it was common to see people in tears.

“You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” Bo Olson, who worked in books marketing, told The Times. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”

Perhaps the most chilling was this section of the article:

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Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos

Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, however, seemed incredulous about the accuracy of the article, saying in a memo that “the article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”

The memo, obtained by GeekWire, expressed Bezos’ surprise and outrage — surprise that anyone could have been treated in such ways and outrage for anyone who did suffer “shockingly callous” practices at the hands of Amazon management.

“If you know of any stories like those reported, I want you to escalate to HR,” he wrote. “You can also e-mail me directly at Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.”

Here is an excerpt from the memo:

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.

While Bezos does not believe the Times’ story to be accurate, it seems unlikely that there is not at least some truth to it.

One thing is certain, however: This story is far from over. It will be interesting to see how many more people will speak up, both to defend and berate Amazon.



Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.