Ubiquitous, yet remote. Disruptive, yet family friendly. A technologist’s dream, yet dedicated to “working back from the customer.”
Among writers on my newsfeed, First Things deputy editor Matthew Schmitz was the lone respondent to the recent New York Times article reporting on current and former Amazon employees who alleged extreme working hours, hostility by superiors to family and sick leave, and an office culture of intense confrontation and anonymous sniping. It made for good copy and the unique e-commerce giant is always worth another look.
Employees and ex-employees, of which I am neither, will have an opportunity to share more details on what it’s really like inside Amazon. Some of the Times‘s details are stale, covered in Brad Stone’s The Everything Store. From the company’s founding, CEO Jeff Bezos applied lessons from idiosyncratic hedge fund D. E. Shaw to his plan to build something truly different at Amazon.
Perhaps the most under-appreciated difference is Amazon’s remarkable commitment to serving families.The scarcest resource for any growing family is time, and in 2010, Bezos introduced Amazon Mom (Amazon Family outside the USA), a popular complimentary version of the company’s two-day delivery membership offered to expectant and new parents. Shortly thereafter, Amazon acquired Quidsi Inc., parent of Diapers.com, for $550 million. The company’s Kindle devices have powerful parental controls to restrict or limit children’s access to media. A series of recent projects explores new ways to serve families including the Dash pantry reordering system; AmazonFresh for groceries; Prime Now one-hour delivery; and Amazon Echo, a voice activated virtual assistant for the home.
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