Amazon boss Jeff Bezos calls Top Gear follow-on show ‘expensive but worth it’

16 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

15 Reasons Why Amazon Might Be The Most Terrifying Employer In The World.

The founder and CEO of Amazon has admitted that signing up Top Gear trio Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond for a new online motoring show was ‘very, very, very expensive’. Relaxing: Jeremy Clarkson, 55, was seen enjoying some down time in St Tropez earlier this month ahead of the filming of his new show to be aired on video streaming service Amazon Prime from next year Mr Bezos said he was ‘very excited’ by the acquisition but told the Sunday Telegraph that Clarkson, May and Hammond were ‘worth a lot, and they know it’. When quizzed days later, those with perfect scores earn a virtual award proclaiming, “I’m Peculiar” – the company’s proud phrase for overturning workplace conventions. When asked whether the new programme will come to define Prime by growing the service’s popularity in the UK, he said: ‘It can’t just be one show, it has to be a number of things. ‘We have a lot of things in the pipeline, which I think viewers in the UK and around the world are going to love.

He believes that television is in its golden age, “ so if you go back in time even just five years, you couldn’t get A-list talent to do TV serials, or if you could, it was a rare thing. But that’s flipped completely.” The three-man team, along with Top Gear’s former executive producer Andy Wilman, have signed a three-series deal with Amazon.

Employees are expected to toil long and late (emails arrive past midnight, followed by text messages asking why they were not answered), and held to standards that the company boasts are “unreasonably high.” The internal phone directory instructs colleagues on how to send secret feedback to one another’s bosses. Employees say it is frequently used to sabotage others. (The tool offers sample texts, including this: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”) Many of the newcomers filing in on Mondays may not be there in a few years.

Mr Wilman previously told Broadcast, the TV industry magazine, that the budget for the series was so good, its production manager would be able to ‘run ****ing riot with money’. Addressing Disney’s D23 Expo event in Anaheim, California, Lasseter teared-up when he said that the film was inspired by his relationship with his wife of 27 years, Nancy. “I’m very proud of our films,” he added. “When we made the first three Toy Story films, we didn’t realise that what we had done was to change the genre of each of the films. Now, for Toy Story 4, we are doing a type of story we haven’t done before: a love story.” Bo Peep did not feature in the third movie, and the film suggested that she may have been sold at a yard sale. Some workers who suffered from cancer, miscarriages and other personal crises said they had been evaluated unfairly or edged out rather than given time to recover. Lasseter’s speech was followed by a performance from 71-year-old singer-songwriter and pianist Randy Newman, who performed his Oscar-nominated theme song You’ve Got a Friend in Me.

He lasted less than two years in a book marketing role and said his enduring image was watching people weep in the office, a sight other workers described as well. “You walk out of a conference room and you’ll see a grown man covering his face,” he said. “Nearly every person I worked with, I saw cry at their desk.” Tens of millions of Americans know Amazon as customers, but life inside its corporate offices is largely a mystery. He was joined on stage by various Toy Story characters, including Woody, Jessie and Buzz, along with the franchise’s famous “green soldiers”, who appeared from the ceiling above the audience’s heads, shimmying down ropes into the auditorium. Google and Facebook motivate employees with gyms, meals and benefits, like cash handouts for new parents, “designed to take care of the whole you,” as Google puts it. Of all of his management notions, perhaps the most distinctive is his belief that harmony is often overvalued in the workplace – that it can stifle honest critique and encourage polite praise for flawed ideas.

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. “If you’re a good Amazonian, you become an Amabot,” said one employee, using a term that means you have become at one with the system. Amazon came under fire in 2011 when workers in an eastern Pennsylvania warehouse toiled in more than 100-degree heat with ambulances waiting outside, taking away laborers as they fell. Many others said the culture stoked their willingness to erode work-life boundaries, castigate themselves for shortcomings (being “vocally self-critical” is included in the description of the leadership principles) and try to impress a company that can often feel like an insatiable taskmaster. Some managers sometimes dismissed such responses as “stupid” or told workers to “just stop it.” The toughest questions are often about getting to the bottom of “cold pricklies,” or email notifications that inform shoppers that their goods won’t arrive when promised – the opposite of the “warm fuzzy” sensation of consumer satisfaction.

In 2012, Chris Brucia, who was working on a new fashion sale site, received a punishing performance review from his boss, a half-hour lecture on every goal he had not fulfilled and every skill he had not yet mastered. Noelle Barnes, who worked in marketing for Amazon for nine years, repeated a saying around campus: “Amazon is where overachievers go to feel bad about themselves.” However, many workers called it a river of intrigue and scheming. In some cases, the criticism was copied directly into their performance reviews – a move that Amy Michaels, the former Kindle manager, said colleagues called “the full paste.” Amazon does not have a single woman on its leadership team – to its competition-and-elimination system. They said they could lose out in promotions because of intangible criteria like “earn trust” (principle No. 10) or the emphasis on disagreeing with colleagues.

Michelle Williamson, a 41-year-old parent of three who helped build Amazon’s restaurant supply business, said her boss, Shahrul Ladue, had told her that raising children would most likely prevent her from success at a higher level because of the long hours required. She was blocked from transferring to a less pressure-filled job, she said, and her boss told her she was “a problem.” As her father was dying, she took unpaid leave to care for him and never returned to Amazon. “When you’re not able to give your absolute all, 80 hours a week, they see it as a major weakness,” she said.

The mother of the stillborn child soon left Amazon. “I had just experienced the most devastating event in my life,” the woman recalled via email, only to be told her performance would be monitored “to make sure my focus stayed on my job.” Berman, the spokesman, said such responses to employees’ crises were “not our policy or practice.” He added, “If we were to become aware of anything like that, we would take swift action to correct it.” Amazon also made Harker, the top recruiter, available to describe the leadership team’s strong support over the last two years as her husband battled a rare cancer. “It took my breath away,” she said.

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