And then there’s the Amazon way, recently documented in a scathing exposé by The New York Times. The report, one ofThe Times’ most commented-upon articles ever, paints an appalling picture of a brutal work environment: “At Amazon, workers are encouraged to tear apart one another’s ideas in meetings, toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are ‘unreasonably high.’ ”
Since the article was published, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and current Amazon employees have quickly decried its claims as inaccurate, outdated, and overblown. In a corporation with more than 150,000 employees, and tens of thousands of former employees, it’s unsurprising that individual accounts would differ and even conflict.
The debate continues over the details of the report, but for Silicon Valley residents like me, the story sounds too familiar. Our region is replete with brutally competitive workplaces that burn through well-educated professionals like expendable commodities. Apple, the most valuable company in the world, has long had a reputation as one of the most intense workplaces in the Valley, its ethos still infused with co-founder Steve Jobs’s famous obsession with perfection. A recent biography of Elon Musk, founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX, portrays his tendency to treat those who work for him “like ammunition: used for a specific purpose until exhausted and discarded.”
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