Amazon Software Developer Woes


This guy has lots of things to say about Amazon.

I am an autodidact (my formal education only tangentially describes what I can do), and a polymath (capable of holding my own amongst PhD-level Operations Researchers, Statisticians, Econometricians, Data Scientists, Computer Scientists, as well as Software Engineers).


I love to solve real world problems, and in many ways am the perfect type of person for Amazon’s culture.

Scratch that - in many ways I’m the perfect type of person. Look: birds wherever I go. Also I can toast bread with the heat from my abs.

I started in a level 5 position, but felt from the beginning that I warranted a level 6 position.

Because at Level 6 you get “Improved Fireball” which does 2d6 damage.

My job description could be summarized as: Do whatever the fuck you can to save Amazon lots of money. And I did exactly that. Within my first year, I had created and directly implemented projects that saved Amazon a recurring annualized 7 digits.

I did that at TELUS for $52,000/yr. All you have to do is save lawyers fifteen minutes a day and have lots of them.

In my third year, I had created a project that required direct investment and couldn’t be finished within the year, but had been verified through significant simulation on production systems to be worth 9 digits of savings annualized.

Like, nine separate digits? One dollar, nine times? Otherwise I’m finding this somewhat implausible.

So why was I not promoted? There are fair criticisms of my personality that I’m willing to accept as legitimate.

Lots of fair criticisms. Lots of unfair criticisms. Criticisms from random strangers. The Barista had some things to say.

I accomplished my goals, but I didn’t gain peer support…partly because in order to accomplish my yearly goals I had to alienate my peers. I had to tear down their pet projects that were inhibiting progress, I had to inform them of misinterpretations of data that they held dear, and I had to make specific types of failures as obvious and clear as possible, whether that was with a bug report or a published analysis.

I was willing, able, and happy to crush my co-workers under my boot-heel to be successful in my own tasks, and yet somehow they don’t think I’m a “team player”.

What makes this worse is that in order to be up for promotion, your boss has to “put you up” for promotion, which involves him/her writing a document detailing your accomplishments and arguing before his peers as to why you should be promoted in an effort to secure unanimous agreement.

So… you work at Everywhere, Ever.

If he has 3 Carl Sagans on his team, only one of them is getting promoted.

Well, he could write 3 letters. Political capital isn’t a physical coin that you spend. It seems like you don’t understand office politics AT ALL, but that was pretty clear from the get go. Plus, look on the bright side: 3 Carl Sagans.

I always prioritized my work based on a cost/benefit estimate. Amazon culture always places higher priority on work that direct-line superiors consider higher priority.

Are you the CEO? You are not the CEO? Well then you don’t get to choose the strategic direction of the company. Want to choose the strategic direction of the company? Be the CEO.

Even then, I had to directly refuse to work on a VP escalation [1] in order to finish up with hundreds of simulations that I was running.

VP like “Vice President”? No wonder you didn’t get that promotion.

It is literally impossible to get clear feedback from your manager as to what you actually have to do to get promoted, because all they are allowed to share with you is this bullshit facade. Unfortunately, it took me 3 years to wisen up to the charade.

This is like r/redpill but for software developers. “I worked all my muscles and tried all the social engineering but the ladies still didn’t like me!”

The culture of amazon has evolved. I can still see remnants of a culture inspired by libertarian philosophy…a meritocratic ideal where only the best of the best survived and the company at the time was better for it.

You take your social darwinist bullshit and peddle it elsewhere.

Much like the apocraphal frog in the slowly boiling pot of water…

you’re delicious with butter. Er, I mean, “apocryphal”.

In my time here, I have made several attempts to make sure I’m not crazy and validate my negative feelings about a coworker by asking other people…

FYI this is one of those things that drains your political capital and causes people to start leveling criticisms at your personality.

You are currently barrelling down the ocean in a TI-class supertanker at full speed…

would you describe 30km/h as barrelling? That’s a little faster than the top speed of a Segway or a Rascal mobility scooter.