How Fast-Growing Divisions like AWS & Alexa Create Tension Inside Amazon


Amazon is organized like a network of start-ups built on a common platform. This can work great (as it does on so many levels for Amazon), but it can also create tension. Business Insider is reporting on a troubling hiring practice at Amazon that is in conflict with its organizational structure:

Teams are poaching newly hired engineers from each other right at the point that a hiring manager makes an offer, sources at Amazon Web Services told Business Insider and Amazon confirmed.

A spokesperson tells us (emphasis ours):

> “We’re a fast-growing company, have several businesses with compelling job opportunities, give new employees options on where they start, and love that people come to Amazon in one role and then are able to move to another after a few years.”

In the offer letter, Amazon’s HR department gives the person a chance to take a job in another department in a hot, highly visibility area, such as Alexa or drones.

This obviously leads to frustration:

New hires love the option, but the practice is causing some frustration among hiring managers, people have told Business Insider. One manager lost three employees in a matter of weeks to other Amazon departments this way, the person said.

As every manager knows, hiring is the hardest, most time-consuming part of the job, and it’s not fun to find a great person only to have another team scoop up that person at the last minute.

Last year I wrote that Amazon Prime could become a strategic black hole, sucking everything in with no regards to opportunity costs as its potential is so high. As it turns out, AWS and Alexa, both growing fast and becoming very strong pillars for Amazon (AWS already is one), are at least organizational black holes.

As long as we don’t hear reports of decreasing retention at Amazon, I wouldn’t worry too much about it. But this is certainly an aspect to keep an eye on. At the least, this could make it harder for Amazon to innovate and succeed in new business areas.

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  1. […] How Fast-Growing Divisions like AWS & Alexa Create Tension Inside Amazon […]


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