• Reports from Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” to the New York Times’ 2015 feature story indicate CEO and founder Jeff Bezos can be a demanding boss, too.
• It’s been alleged Bezos has barked out questions like “Are you lazy or just incompetent?” at employees, and referred to the publishing industry as a “sickly gazelle.”
Amazon’s brutal workplace culture is no secret.
And, if reports like Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” and the New York Times’ 2015 feature story on the company are true, this culture flows from founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
From comparing businesses to exotic octopus dishes to banning Powerpoint outright, the tech mogul has acquired something of an intense reputation in the industry.
Here are several wild anecdotes that illustrate Bezos’ competitive side.
Bezos’ devastating workplace tirades are infamous
When people mess up at Amazon, Bezos has historically not been one to mince words.
Brad Stone’s “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon” outlines a litany of barbs Bezos allegedly has hurled at employees:
• “I’m sorry, did I take my stupid pills today?”
• “Are you lazy or just incompetent?”
• “I trust you to run world-class operations and this is another example of how you are letting me down.”
• “If I hear that idea again, I’m gonna have to kill myself.”
• “Why are you ruining my life?”
Stone’s account indicates the Amazon CEO doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
He is especially difficult to impress — and easy to agitate — during presentations
Bezos is apparently a tough critic during employee presentations.
Back in 2011, programmer and ex-Amazon employee Steve Yegge published an account of his time at Amazon. In particular, he spoke of going in to present to the CEO, an experience he likened to being in “a gladiator movie”: “Presenting to Jeff is a gauntlet that tends to send people back to the cave to lick their wounds and stay out of the sunlight for a while.”
Yegge said Bezos ended up liking his presentation, which surprised his coworkers. “One VP told me privately: ‘Presentations with Jeff never go that well,'” he wrote.
But don’t try to wow him with Powerpoint.
Business Insider reported a leaked email from the Amazon CEO accuses the program of encouraging people to “gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the inner connectedness of ideas.” It’s apparently banned from Amazon’s campus, according to Yegge.
Bezos reportedly once yanked transportation perks at Amazon, because he didn’t want workers to leave the office
In “The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon,” Stone writes the Amazon CEO declined to give employees city bus passes in the early years of the company “because he didn’t want to give them any reason to rush out of the office to catch the last bus of the day.”