Straight Outta Amazon!


When your corporate culture and work practices are skewered on the front page of The New York Times, you have two paths forward: respond defensively or not al all. Jeff Bezos and Jay Carney opted to respond. With a tail lowered a few degrees, Mr.Bezos smartly wrote his employees telling them the characterization of his company as a harsh place to work was, in his mind, inaccurate. And in some of the cases cited in the article, very un-Amazonian. Anyone, said he, who feels they have been wronged should “write me directly.” He also suggested, harsh working conditions and lack of empathy will not be tolerated. Mr. Carney brought this internal memo to the NYT and public. Those mea culpas out of the way he went on to say the story was inaccurate.

The second approach would have been to do nothing. Nothing externally. That’s the approach I would have taken. It’s a big company. Nasty happens. Hard work happens. Has anyone ever worked at an ad agency? Doh! Bad managers are just like bad people, they exist.

By going public, extending the news cycle another day, the NYT ended up gathering more stories to publish. Women Bill Cosby raped began “coming out” when the crimes became topical. Hard work at Amazon is not a crime. Slashing a percentage of workers each year is not a crime – it’s Jack Welchian.

I suspect Jay Carney counselled Mr. Bezos to lay low and he did not abide. Or, it could have been the other way. Either way it was a learning moment. Either way Amazon will rule the world (silly drone idea aside) in 10 years.

Peace be up on (not “upon”) you. (Saw Straight Outta Compton last night. Crazy, crazy great movie!)