September 13, 2006

Taking a break from Amazon

I've decided to take a break from Amazon - tomorrow is my last day. Officially I'm taking time off as a leave of absence, but at this point I'm not sure of the odds of returning full time. However, I have talked with a few groups and there is some mighty interesting work coming up - one possibility in the Web Services group and another in a 'new business' sort of group.

The past three and a half years have been great and full of action, but that action has me pretty much burned out. I was really, really lucky to start in the group that I did - the product catalog group. After a couple years I wound up managing the team that is responsible for the primary storage of everything offered for sale on Amazon's platform - a couple hundred million listings. The reason I enjoyed this area is that while there are many things that Amazon does, one of the core areas is allowing sellers to offer thing for sale. There is both the satisfaction of scaling to huge numbers, and the satisfaction of enabling the 'little guy' to list stuff and make some money, possibly even make a small business. There are so many people that created a business or run their business based mostly on Amazon that it's both humbling and humanizing - believe me, we all take it very seriously.

The people I've interacted with at Amazon are the best I've ever worked with, and I've been at several companies over the past fifteen years. The really amazing thing about Amazon is that everyone is uniformly smart - not just engineering people, but everyone. That alone makes things so much easier.