Amazon usually stays silent whenever the company is facing issues but Jeff Bezos couldn't keep himself from responding when a New York Times article came out over the weekend.
In a memo sent to Amazon employees, Bezos said he doesn't recognize the company being portrayed in the article written by Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld. Amazon now has $250 billion in market valuation, making it the most valuable retailer in the United States and Bezos, the fifth richest person on the planet. But to get there, Amazon had to do away with pleasantries, pushing people beyond their limits and commonly past their breaking points, according to the article.
One of the individuals interviewed for the NYT article said that he has seen almost every person he worked with cry at their desk.
For Amazon's top recruiter, Susan Harker, this was simply a matter of people who do not fit to be at the company.
"When you're shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people, it doesn't work," she said.
Bezos' work philosophy has largely influenced how Amazon works, what with his leadership principles showing how employees should act, but he said he doesn't see the Amazon he knows in the article.
"I don't recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don't, either," he said, adding that he doesn't think that a company with the kind of approach described in the NYT article will be able to survive the highly competitive tech market of today.
He adds that he believes anyone working for a company like the one being depicted by the article will be crazy to say and that he himself would leave such a company.
He does, however, acknowledge the possibility that isolated incidents exist. As such, Bezos told Amazon employees to immediately inform human resources should they experience or know of any stories like the NYT reported. They can also email him directly, if they want. Though a case may be isolated or rare, Bezos made it clear that tolerance for lack of empathy has to be zero.
Bezos told potential new hires in the past that it's not easy to work in Amazon but, based on the memo, he wants to send the message that a challenging workplace is different from an uncaring one.
Photo: James Duncan Davidson | Flickr