Amazon just got drilled by a drive-by expose published by the New York Times. Among the juiciest nuggets revealed by the reporting journalists Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld:
The company has a custom internal email system that allows disgruntled employees to snipe at other employees through anonymous messages sent to their target’s boss. Others make pacts to praise each other to their bosses in order to slant performance reviews.
Amazon’s employee stock-heavy reward system is a Ponzi scheme that excludes the newest employees and benefits the oldest employees.
Obsessive secrecy about the goings on at the company is felt at all levels with even the lowliest new employees required to sign lengthy confidentiality documents.
Controlling shareholder and CEO Jeff Bezos publically brags that “you can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two of three”.
Employees are expected to disagree and attack the ideas of others to promote a sort of Darwinian theory of idea evolution where only the best ideas survive.
The company is essentially an employee meat grinder that sucks in talent and spits out a portion of it every year in a transparent mission to right-size upward. New talent is hired to replace the losers.
Amazon requires its salaried employees to work 80 hour weeks. Those that don’t are eliminated. Even once-high flying but now hapless employees on medical leave for life-saving cancer treatment are considered liabilities.
The need for new talent to replace those that are forced out is so great that it has promoted scheming where managers sabotage each other in order to seize their subordinates after successfully drowning “someone in the deep end of the pool”.
The company still relies on a widely discredited year-end employee ranking methodology that is used to purge the “bottom dwellers” and has degenerated into a shouting free-for-all between competing managers that seek to weaken rivals and bolster their own ambitions.
Amazon’s ruthless slash and burn promotion system discriminates against working mothers. In fact there are no women in the top executive ranks.
The median employee tenure at Amazon is only one year.
Jeff Bezos comments on the article are here.
An Amazon executive’s rebuttal can be found here.