Is Jeff Bezos Angry? His Toxic Behavior Explained

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "The Everything Store" by Brad Stone. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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Why is Jeff Bezos known for being so angry? What are some examples of Bezos’s temper? How has this influenced Amazon’s work culture?

Many of Amazon’s employees have described Jeff Bezos as angry. Bezos frequently lashes out at employees, degrades and swears at them, and promotes a culture where his execs do the same.

Here are examples of Jeff Bezos’s anger problems.

Jeff Bezos’s Temper

Is Jeff Bezos angry? Jeff Bezos is well-known for his short temper and willingness to point out when someone has done something dumb. This is less an official company tactic and more a personal trait described often in the book The Everything Store.

  • Bezos dislikes when an employee doesn’t have the right answer, tries to bluff the right answer, takes credit for someone else’s work, engages in politics, or shows frailty in the heat of battle.
  • In a press conference announcing toy selection, Amazon has tables with piles of merchandise representing a broad selection. Bezos is unsatisfied with the size of the piles: “Do you want to hand this business to our competitors? This is pathetic!”
  • In response to an executive who requested business-class flights: “That is not how an owner thinks! That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard.”
  • To an exec after a proposal: “If that’s our plan, I don’t like our plan.”
  • “Do I need to go down and get the certificate that says I’m CEO of the company to get you to stop challenging me on this?”
  • “Are you lazy or just incompetent?”
  • “I trust you to run world-class operations and this is another example of how you are letting me down.”
  • After reviewing the annual plan from supply-chain team: “I guess supply chain isn’t doing anything interesting next year.
  • To a supply-chain team causing software bugs leading to lack of recognizing revenue: “You’re a complete fucking idiot. I have no idea why I hire idiots like you at the company.” (paraphrased)
  • To a Kindle 2 presentation team: “I don’t know if you guys don’t have high standards or if you just don’t know what you’re doing.”
  • When he gets a personal email of a subpar customer experience, he forwards it to the responsible party, with an ominous “?” single question mark. People know he’s ready to explode, and they rush to solve it and explain how it happened within a few hours.
  • In the 2000 holiday season, the VP of customer service assured Bezos the customer phone wait times were under a minute without offering proof. In response, Bezos dialed the service number over speakerphone and fumed as they waited for an unbearable 4.5 minutes.

It’s Not Just Bezos

  • His lieutenants have also been characterized as having a short temper.
    • Jeff Wilke, now CEO Worldwide Retail, also seems to explode at times. He had daily conference calls with general managers and required them to know daily facts – how many orders had shipped, the number of trucks waiting outside. Once when asked about how many trucks were at the warehouse, a manager seemed to look out the window and started counting “one, two, three…” – Wilke exploded.
    • Kal Raman, head of hardline businesses, would yell at buyers if Amazon’s prices were higher than competitors’ or if they ran out of inventory. “Can I have some of what you’re drinking so I can feel good about your business too?” He left within 2 years.
  • Bezos has a mission that he wants to see accomplished, and anyone who impedes progress is an obstacle.
    • “It may very well be that the absolute intensity of drive and focus is essential and incompatible with all of the nice management thought about consensus and gentle demeanor.” – Joy Covey, former Amazon CFO
  • Bezos seems aware of this and reportedly has gotten coaching. In a meeting, he called a team stupid and told them to “come back in a week when you figure out what you’re doing.” Then he took a few steps, froze, and added, “But great work, everyone.”
Is Jeff Bezos Angry? His Toxic Behavior Explained

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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