Amazon.com, Inc. was the subject of a caustic New York Times article that ran in the print edition of the paper over the weekend. The article authors, Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld describes Amazon as a “bruising workplace” were employees are being monitored big-brother style in order to feed data that will force them to meet “unreasonably high” standards. Yet, Jeff Bezos wants to keep the share price from falling because of the news.
The article details interviews of more than 100 current and former Amazon workers. Most of them have had first-hand experiences of how Amazon treats its workers just to stay competitive. For instance, Bo Olson who worked in books marketing says, “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face…Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.”
Others have mixed feelings about working at Amazon as some consider the pressure-cooker nature one of the things that forced them to push their personal limits. For instance, John Rossman, a former executive says, “A lot of people who work there feel this tension: It’s the greatest place I hate to work”.
Amazon’s vocal defense
The article did try to present the good, bad, and probably ugly side of working at Amazon but there’s no disputing the fact that it was predominantly about the bad anecdotes. Hence, a number of high-profile persons have taken up the task of defending Amazon’s workplace practice.
Leading the defense is Dick Costolo, the Twitter CEO who stepped down a couple of months ago. He says most of what was written in the article was “taken out of context” and blown out of proportions at the same time. Mark Andreessen says the authors would rather have a mediocre workplace that celebrates underachievers.
Nick Ciubotariu, an Amazon worker also defended the firm saying that most people choose to work and stay at the firm because they wanted “to work on the most complex problems in the world, with the best and brightest people in the world”.
The most vocal defense for Amazon came from the company CEO himself, Jeff Bezos in company memo in which he said, “I don’t recognize this Amazon and I very much hope you don’t, either.” In the memo, Bezos denies the Amazon described in the piece. He says, “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.” He then asked workers to report to him directly if they have stories similar to what was described in the article.
How the market views Amazon
As the Internet was awash with #InsideAmazon talks over the weekend, someone said that half of the people who saw the article reacted in one way to the other while the remaining half continued their shopping on Amazon.
The stock market has not been able to price the reaction of consumers into the price movement of Amazon but it is doubtful that the news will move the stock. For one, it has gained 0.07% to $531.91 in pre-market trading as at 4:43AM. It appears that Jeff Bezos’ memo will douse the flames and stop any backlash on Amazon’s stock.