Dear employees and everyone else,
I’m going to start with links to the stories in question to show you that i’m not going to dance around the elephant in the room.
Now on to the point of this. I’m writing because the article is so damning and from such a reputable source that it can have a broadly negative impact on the fortunes of Amazon. These negative consequences can be in the form of government intervention, organized labor, operational disfunction, and can even affect our stock valuation. Any one of these results can cause tremendous issues for this company and worthy of CEO level attention, so this is my ‘nip it in the bud’ attempt to fix the situation.
Here is the deal, the goal in business is to do make as much as we possibly can for as little as we possibly can spend. The difference is called profit. Amazon uses this profit to grow our business in other areas and to create a virtuous business cycle. There is nothing evil about this, it’s the way of capitalism and it’s allowed me to take this company from nothing to tens of thousands of employees and billions in revenue. I, like many other CEO’s before me, have fostered a culture of intense competition. We want our managers to push and push, because as we get bigger it’s really easy to slip into complacency. We don’t want that. The problem of course is that occasionally we push too hard or by the very nature of large organizations our pushing gets magnified as it goes downhill to you, the professional individual contributor. As a CEO everything is a problem.. but being honest, pushing people too hard isn’t very high on any CEO’s list of problems to address. Our attitude is if you don’t like it leave. Not every company is meant for every individual.
I enjoy our highly competitive environment, If I didn’t that wouldn’t have been the type of company that I built. If I could I would have everyone work every waking moment and think about the company 24/7 just like I do. But obviously we have grown beyond being able to cultivate a population of Amazon employees whose total existence can be dedicated to the company. So we have to tweak things a bit.
To my managers: you need to be a bit smarter about how you push. Keep pushing and keep pushing hard, but maybe be aware of the things that can get us into trouble and dial it back in those areas until you can engineer a fix (i.e. replace the problem employee with someone you can get to perform the way we want). To my shareholders.. I’m on this problem and i’ll make sure it doesn’t affect the company’s growth. To my employees at the individual contributor level. We aren’t going to change much.. it’s still going to be hyper competitive and hyper brutal and definitely unreasonable. The only change is that we will be aware of the things that can get us in real trouble and we will be a little less in-you-face about those specific things.
Ok, enough talk.. everyone back to work.
Editors note: This post is is reference to the New York Times article about Amazon.com’s employment practices and Jeff Bezos response.