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    Life is too short to put up with that crap, IMHO.

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      It sounds like a cult. Academia and investment banking have the same creepy culture. To be evicted from it (and 90 percent will be) is the worst thing ever. They train you to think that if you leave voluntarily, you somehow lack values and decency, and that if you’re pushed out, your career is over. This motivates people to put forward the kind of effort and emotional investment that would be appropriate if they had genuine equity when, in fact, they probably don’t.

      I feel like most people don’t understand why Steve Jobs (in whose path Jeff Bezos seems inclined to follow) was able to fix Apple. It wasn’t that he was an asshole. It’s that he was a competent asshole. 85-95 percent of execs (at least in technology, where I’ve known enough to put confidence to that number) are incompetent assholes: bike-shedding, empire-building morons who generate needless work, force the people below them to accommodate their massive egos, and take away more than they contribute. Apple needed Steve Jobs to burn them up so the creators could actually get work done without executive meddling (except, perhaps, his meddling– which would at least be from a place of competence). What a lot of people forget is that Steve Jobs was a totally different person to his designers and engineers from who he was to executives. You almost have to be an asshole to deal with executives (since “executive” is almost always a euphemism for “professional social climber”) and keep them from impeding the people who do the actual work.

      The problem with Amazon culture, at least as presented in the NYT– I’ve never worked there, and what I’ve heard (though there is some negative in it) doesn’t make it sound worse than any other big tech company– is that the asshole CEO (thanks, Jobs) has become glorified. You need competent assholes and sheep-dogs and radical protect-the-good types to fight the assholes, but being an asshole isn’t a virtue in its own right. Bezos apparently didn’t learn that part of this whole thing. Amazon culture seems to venerate assholism as a virtue on its own. That’s essentially what stack-ranking is: it’s telling managers at each level, “You need to be an asshole, even if you don’t want to be and even if no one under you deserves it.”

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        Walmart 2.0

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          When your net income is flat (or negative) at some point all the people who poured money into you are going to ask - what are you doing to make the business profitable? And the typical management answer is “We’re making the slaves, I mean workers, cheaper”.

          Is amazon’s search particularly good? Are it’s machine learning algorithms good? No. I searched for a fire extinguisher once. For the next few months all my recommendations were for fire-extinguishers of different sizes.

          Is the sorting by price good? No.

          Do they make products? Not really. The kindle was good, but that’s the only think I bought that Amazon developed.

          I only buy from amazon because (as @zacbrown said pithily) it’s cheaper than a local store and I can get the item - even if it is large and unwieldy - delivered to my door step.

          I could justify this when I was a student and really short of cash, but I have to ask myself now “Do I really need so much stuff, and in such quantity, that saving a few bucks per item is worth destroying the middle class of a whole country?”