Jeff Bezos Responds to NYTimes Story, Says He Doesn’t Recognize the Company Described

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The NYTimes expose on the working conditions at Amazon didn't go over too well with the company's founder.

Jeff Bezos took to his keyboard over the weekend  and wrote a memo to his employees. Amazon's CEO wrote that he doesn’t recognize the company described in the article, and he hoped that the employees don't recognize it either.

You can read the full email below. Compared to the blog posts published by two Amazon employees over the weekend, Bezos' response is less a rebuttal than a simple denial and a request that employees take steps to report any conduct like what was reported in the piece.

The NYTimes “claims that our intentional approach is to create a soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard,” Bezos writes. “Again, I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either….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."

Here’s the full memo from Jeff Bezos, as obtained by GeekWire. Let me know what you think (I'm still waiting for caffeine to kick in, and so I have no opinion yet).

Dear Amazonians,

If you haven’t already, I encourage you to give this (very long) New York Times article a careful read:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/16/technology/inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-in-a-bruising-workplace.html

I also encourage you to read this very different take by a current Amazonian:

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/amazonians-response-inside-amazon-wrestling-big-ideas-nick-ciubotariu

Here’s why I’m writing you. 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 protected] Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero.

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.

Thank you,

Jeff

image by jurvetson

About Nate Hoffelder (11598 Articles)
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader:"I've been into reading ebooks since forever, but I only got my first ereader in July 2007. Everything quickly spiraled out of control from there. Before I started this blog in January 2010 I covered ebooks, ebook readers, and digital publishing for about 2 years as a part of MobileRead Forums. It's a great community, and being a member is a joy. But I thought I could make something out of how I covered the news for MobileRead, so I started this blog."

9 Comments on Jeff Bezos Responds to NYTimes Story, Says He Doesn’t Recognize the Company Described

  1. “…laughing along the way…”
    Well, that tells us what he thinks of the NYT.

  2. Smart Debut Author // 17 August, 2015 at 11:25 am // Reply

    The New York Times still has its uses… like housebreaking a puppy or wrapping fish, for instance.

  3. I have no knowledge at all about the situation at Amazon. I just wanted to say that what Bezos and two senior managers have to say doesn’t mean a thing to me. In my experience, upper management at most large companies are totally clueless about what goes on down in the trenches. A comment posted on your earlier article, made by a part-time employee, carries a lot more weight with me.

    • Same here.

      As a matter of fact, you may even discover a pattern when it comes to working conditions and the unawareness of upper management.

      It sometimes takes a bunch of employees ending their lives for management to become aware there are very serious problems. So yeah, sure, one manager wrote a post on LinkedIn, Bezos sent an internal memo but we have data which tells us they are the less likely to know what is really happening….

      That is why this comment, albeit an unverifiable one, carries a lot more weight with me too.

      But management… we must take it with a grain of salt as it is systematically too late when it discovers there is a problem.

  4. Since the entire Sedona O’Hala series that I write is based on mismanagement at companies…it would be disingenuous of me to rush in and say Amazon can’t be as bad as reported. But the NY Times isn’t known for reporting without bias either. And they seem to have a reputation for hating successful companies. I’m guessing that like most companies, Amazon has some problem areas. It probably has some rogue managers who go all gestapo on the employees. It probably has some really good managers and great areas for employees. But for the most part I tend to agree that Bezos would be the last to know either way.

  5. Blogger Sonny Bunch at the Free Beacon says it all:

    “The latest salvo in the Old Grey Lady’s war against Amazon dropped this weekend: It is an almost-6,000 word reported feature that reveals Amazon employees work hard and that some of their former employees who didn’t want to work hard quit. That’s literally it. That’s the entirety of the story: Amazon expects people to work a lot and some people don’t want to work that much. There are no accusations of illegality. There is no evidence of discrimination. There are simply a string of anecdotes from people who are sad they couldn’t hack it at the world’s best online store.”

    • Thant’s a good one. Thanks!

      His other column on this topic is also pretty good:

      I’ll address the Times story momentarily; first I’d like to comment on Green’s “bravery.” Because it’s a rather absurd sort of posturing, the sort of cost-free “statement” that allows him to set himself apart from The Bad People Who Are Not Good Like Me. (Remember: Twitter is for moral positioning.) If John Green were truly interested in making change—if he really wanted to hit Amazon in the purse strings—he’d push to have his books removed from the digital shelves of Amazon.com. He’d demand his publisher do no business with them. He’d go on the warpath.

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