As of December I’m working for Amazon. This will be different from my last few gigs; in particular, don’t expect to read about it here.
The preaching and coding around privacy and security I’ve been doing these last few months has been a blast, but it doesn’t seem to be a paying job nor even a coherent organized project, the kind with co-workers. And Amazon is offering me one of those, so here I am with a smile on my face.
What I will and won’t be doing · I’ll be working on AWS. And that’s all I’m saying, because this isn’t an outward-facing job; for the first time in oh-so-long, I’m back in the full-time engineering trenches. So don’t come here looking for opinions about The Cloud.
Why? · Well, the work looks interesting, I found myself in tune with the people I’ve talked to so far, and the pay is decent. But there are big intangibles: It turns out that Amazon is investing in Vancouver, big-time. They’re taking several floors of Telus Garden, one of the more interesting local real-estate build-outs. And they’ve got the go-ahead to build a huge engineering team here. Which touches a couple of my hot buttons.
First, I am totally sick of working remotely. I want to go and work in rooms with other people working on the same things that I am.
Second, I’m a passionate Vancouverite. I was really, really, irritated that I couldn’t go on doing the work that I loved at Google because Google isn’t here and I won’t go there. There’s this long sad history in which anyone who does something surprising and excellent in Vancouver suddenly finds themselves doing it in Cupertino or Mountain View or SoMa.
This town has loads of talent; it needs an anchor tenant offering world-class pay and demanding world-class skills. Amazon’s build-out should attract good people, boost the ecosystem, and spin off startups.
Well then, and cloud tech too! It’s ruthlessly competitive, more or less every developer needs it, and there’s no doubt whatsoever that anything you ship is gonna get used big-time if it’s any good.
My new employer · I’ve already disclosed that I Amazon-tag things I review here and thus haven’t paid for a book there in years. I wonder if I can go on doing that as an employee?
As for Amazon generally? I’ve long been a fan of AWS (and its competitors too) if only because they help entrepreneurs avoid the VC tarpit. As for the rest of the company, I genuinely don’t have an opinion, since I don’t understand retail generally or the book biz in particular. The company’s large-scale strategy is obviously unconventional and nobody knows how it’s going to play out. One of today’s really interesting business stories, I’d say. Fun!
I do seriously like it that there’s no distinction between an Amazon user and an Amazon customer. I remain broadly in sympathy with most of what Google is trying to do, but that user/customer divide is discomforting.
The commute · I walk or bike 8½ blocks to the subway, ride it 4 stops, walk 3 more blocks and I’m at work. With other people. On interesting problems. In my home town. What’s not to like?