Amazon work culture and the weekly roundup in tech and retail:

News and commentaries

Are working hard and having a work-life balance mutually exclusive? This question was on top of my mind as the New York Times piece on the working conditions at Amazon take the spotlight this week. I personally know some people who would thrive on an “up-or-out” culture and I bet they would say something like: Working at Amazon is hell, so what? Personally, I think that the NY Times piece was slightly sensationalized:

Instead, Amazonians are instructed to “disagree and commit” (No. 13) — to rip into colleagues’ ideas, with feedback that can be blunt to the point of painful, before lining up behind a decision.

Would you rather work in a place where consensus is always king, up to a point when the sh*t hits the fan because nobody asked the hard questions? There are more snippets like these that criticize Amazon’s leadership principles which is probably quite similar to a lot of prestigious companies. I don’t see anything wrong about that.

It is important to note though that a viral LinkedIn post defending Amazon came from someone in a senior position, male and an engineer. And I believe him when he says it’s a great place to work. For sure, engineers are highly valued and would have no problem leaving if the conditions are bad, but what about everyone else? What if it’s just a regular Joe or Jane in a low-to-mid level position outside of engineering? Just wondering.

Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail:

In tech:

  1. Extramarital dating service Ashley Madison headaches continue as hackers release new data targeting site’s CEO and operators
  2. Ride-sharing: GrabTaxi, an Uber competitor in Asia, raises $350 million to grow its e-hail vehicle service across Southeast Asia; Uber lands strategic investment from India’s Tata Opportunity Funds, a private equity sponsored by Tata Capital; Uber’s fundraising presentation shows it will reach $10.8B in bookings in 2015
  3. Google: Google launches $199 WiFi router OnHub; Life Sciences team graduates from Google X and will be a standalone entity under newly-formed Alphabet; Google’s data center in Belgium is hit by lightning, causes permanent data loss for some users; Same-day delivery service Google Express shuts down two delivery hubs in San Francisco and Mountain View, CA
  4. Gartner: Worldwide iPhone sales grew 36% YoY, while Android YoY growth lowest ever in Q2
  5. Intuit, Inc., maker of TurboTax, to divest itself of Demandforce, Quickbase and Quicken

In retail:

  1. Jeff Bezos responds to New York Times report slamming Amazon’s working conditions, recommends a LinkedIn blog post by Amazon employee Nick Ciubotariu as counterpoint
  2. Home shopping network QVC to buy flash sales site Zulily for $2.4 Billion
  3. Singapore online grocery service RedMart raises $26.7M ahead of Southeast Asia expansion
  4. L Brands, owner of Victoria’s Secret and Bath & Body Works, raises per-share earnings guidance for the year on continued sales growth
  5. India’s fashion discovery site Roposo raises $15M in fresh funding
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