Amazon's Modus Operandi

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Posted on July 29, 2006 10:51 AM in Miscellaneous
Warning: This blog entry was written two or more years ago. Therefore, it may contain broken links, out-dated or misleading content, or information that is just plain wrong. Please read on with caution.

When I came across an article at Slashdot titled Dropping Profits Sends Amazon In Odd Directions this morning, I couldn't say I was the least bit surprised.

In addition to a couple phone interviews, one of which I've mentioned here before, I had an on-campus interview at Amazon a couple years ago. One of the things that stood out during the interview process was how fearful everyone I talked to was of the company's stock price declining.

Being that I have a web design and development background, and given the fact that Amazon is pretty much a web-based shop when all is said and done, I had a lot of questions for them regarding their website (especially since I've always thought it sucks so hard).

When I asked the developers and PMs that were interviewing me about their site, what their feelings were regarding web standards, how they planned to evolve over time, and when they would be moving from their old, proprietary CMS to a more robust and current one, all their answers had something to do with the company's stock price. Basically, given the fact that their stock price was high and had been rising for quite some time, they were unwilling to do anything risky with the site for fear that it might create a downturn.

Imagine if a company like Google that is famous for its 20 percent time made a rule that any projects resulting from that 20 percent time were only deployable when the company stock price was on the rise. Based on statistics, we'd be seeing a lot fewer cool products coming out of Google than we did back in 2005.

Note that my observations are based on interactions with employees a couple years ago. Things may be different there now, and I do know that Amazon is innovating in a lot of different areas. However, based on the article on Slashdot and my best guesses, I would say not much has changed in that department. I'm just happy I'm not working at a company that hinders its developers' productivity or is willing to put doing the right thing on hold when skies are blue.


Ed C on July 29, 2006 at 3:16 PM:

Amazon has really gone downhill. It’s not surprising that they are trying new things because they have really screwed up the shopping experience for their users. I agree that Amazon’s interface sucks, and that it’s became nothing more than a glorified web portal for products. I recently bought a few things on Amazon, and every single item came from a different source, I paid separate shipping costs for each item, and everything arrived at different times. What happened to convenience?

Nice blog BTW.


Sean on July 29, 2006 at 5:53 PM:

I don't fully understand the logic behind adding an increasing number of services to your business to boost sales. Especially when everyone is trying that technique. It seems you could beat your competitors by being the one business that does one thing, and does it well.

I agree with Ed that Amazon started going downhill when they added the "zShops".


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