Jeff Bezos comes out swinging after Amazon slam

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has come out swinging against criticisms that the company is a harsh task-master, calling for whistleblowers to single out any signs of ill-treatment. The response comes after a New York Times article, published this weekend, in which numerous current and former Amazon employees described an environment loaded with back-stabbing, unduly long hours, and a work ethos that forces out all but the most dedicated – or those willing to drop just about everything to put the retailer first.

Bezos did not comment on record for the first article, but the fall-out has prompted the chief exec to speak.

In a company-wide email, obtained by the NYT, Bezos wrote of his surprise and horror by the "shockingly callous management" described in the piece.

"Even if it's rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero," he told staff, asking that if any were aware of "stories like those reported" they should inform the human resources department or indeed tell him directly.

"The NYT article prominently features anecdotes describing shockingly callous management practices, including people being treated without empathy while enduring family tragedies and serious health problems. The article doesn't describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day" Jeff Bezos

Bezos also took issue with the idea that Amazon unduly skewed toward tough conditions, much more so than its counterparts in the tech space.

"I don't think any company adopting the approach portrayed could survive, much less thrive, in today's highly competitive tech hiring market," he argued. "The people we hire here are the best of the best."

The chief exec also linked to a more positive write-up of Amazon's work environment by one of its current executives, Nick Ciubotariu, who heads the company's infrastructure development team for search experience.

In his piece – which he insists was not motivated by anybody within the company, nor indeed run through its PR team ahead of publishing – Ciubotariu takes issue with the exposé, insisting that nothing in his eighteen month tenure has indicated a dangerous or overly-stressful workplace.

Whether the damage control will be sufficient remains to be seen. As the original piece pointed out over the weekend, Amazon's highly competitive salaries and bonuses, not to mention the strength of its reputation on a resumé, mean new recruits are not in short supply.

Meanwhile, it's unclear whether shoppers themselves are more concerned with employee conditions – real or otherwise – or getting the lowest price in their cart.


MORE LinkedIn; NY Times