Amazon CEO Bites Back After Scathing New York Times Article

Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos
Amazon Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos

*Do you have a hard time reaching a real person at a huge retailer like Amazon when you want to get a question answered, but find you are automatically redirected to their FAQ page? Well, we certainly know how to get a direct response from them now: Write an article!

The New York Times  wrote a scathing article about the retail giant and now its Founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is answering to it directly. After reading the article, which accuses Amazon of not being compassionate to its employees suffering from health and family issues, Bezos said his company would not tolerate the “shockingly callous management practices” that were described in the article over the weekend; adding that he did not recognize the workplace portrayed in the article and urged any employees who knew of “stories like those reported” to contact him directly.

He even supplied his personal Email address. This guy means business!

“Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” Bezos said in an email circulated to all the retailer’s employees.

The article claims to have interviewed about 100 past and current Amazon employees, who told  stories about workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises that had been treated unfairly and even let go instead of being allowed time to recover in Amazon’s intense and fast-paced workplace.

In a memo to employees, Bezos wrote that he “very much” hoped his employees did not recognize the “…soulless, dystopian workplace where no fun is had and no laughter heard,” depicted in the article.

The New York Times article also implied it is the most productive employees (winners) that get all the thrills at Amazon; such as testing new projects with hundreds of millions of customers and get rich through a stock that has increased tenfold since 2008. While the less productive (losers) are pushed out in regular cullings. One former Amazon human resources director called it “purposeful Darwinism.”

Bezos urged his 18,000 employees to give the Times article “a careful read” but said it “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day.”

One part of the scathing article, titled “Inside Amazon: Wrestling Big Idea in a Bruising Workplace” (accompanied by a photo of people coming in and out of a revolving door…that is actually in motion) reads: “At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are ‘unreasonably high.’ The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses,” it said.

Nick Ciubotariu, an engineer at Amazon describes his 18 months of experience at the company.

Not unlike many of the Amazon employees quoted in The Times article, Mr. Ciubotariu describes strengths of the workplace, including focus on customers and innovation. The engineer also quotes an unnamed senior executive telling an all-hands meeting, “Amazon used to burn a lot of people into the ground.”

Of course attempts contacts to reach Mr. Bezos directly when we called Amazon were unsuccessful. But plenty of other executives were readily available.

Read the full memo by Jeff Bezos to his employees here.


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