I question whether Amazon is sustainable

• 3 min read

There's a lot of activity around $AMZN buying Whole Foods right now. I have a very small position in Amazon and I agree that this is a great acquisition. I occasionally shopped at Whole Foods but not often. There isn't a store conveniently near me and with competitive prices relative to the Asian market we shop at. However, the idea of being able to say "Alexa, add organic milk to my shopping list" is rather appealing.

Amazon is amazing. It started out as a book seller and has transformed itself into a "second internet," a pro services portal, and so much more. It disrupts every single market it decides to enter. Why? Because of Jeff Bezos vision and it's employees.

Every aspect of the Amazon system amplifies the others to motivate and discipline the company’s marketers, engineers and finance specialists: the leadership principles; rigorous, continuing feedback on performance; and the competition among peers who fear missing a potential problem or improvement and race to answer an email before anyone else. via NY Times

A Tough Place to Work

Great vision, great employees, performance oriented, etc. What's not to love? The stock market sure loves it and the share price keeps charging higher.

Then I took pause at what I read in a NY Times article. I read about how easy it is to burnout and how ruthless the place can be.

In 2013, Elizabeth Willet, a former Army captain who served in Iraq, joined Amazon to manage housewares vendors and was thrilled to find that a large company could feel so energetic and entrepreneurial. After she had a child, she arranged with her boss to be in the office from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. each day, pick up her baby and often return to her laptop later. Her boss assured her things were going well, but her colleagues, who did not see how early she arrived, sent him negative feedback accusing her of leaving too soon.


A woman who had thyroid cancer was given a low performance rating after she returned from treatment. She says her manager explained that while she was out, her peers were accomplishing a great deal. Another employee who miscarried twins left for a business trip the day after she had surgery. “I’m sorry, the work is still going to need to get done,” she said her boss told her. “From where you are in life, trying to start a family, I don’t know if this is the right place for you.”

The Times article goes on to list more "work/no life" unbalances which make me question if Amazon is sustainable in the long run. I come from the philosophy that if you treat your workers well with a true work-life balance you will see sustainable growth. Amazon sounds like a class action suit waiting to happen.

Selling My Holdings

We have an Alexa in our house and we have Amazon Prime. We buy almost all of our gadgets and "stuff" on Amazon but now I'm starting to feel guilty that my money helps support this type of work culture. I just can't do that anymore because of my personal philosophies on life and work.

This is why I've decided to sell my AMZN holdings today. I won't completely divorce myself from Amazon but I plan on reducing my overall exposure to them. Will we continue to use Amazon Prime? Probably. Will we be buying any Amazon Echos? Nope. Will I migrate any EC2 servers I have running off AWS? Yes.


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