Build Your Own Amazon

When I worked as an engineer at Amazon, I would arrive at the office every day before 6:30am.

Amazon’s enormous campus is in downtown Seattle. The company expands across the city like a massive, growing organism composed of towering buildings and ecospheres. The constant wet mist of Seattle always seems lighter within Amazon campus, perhaps thinned by the optimism that Amazon inspires in its workforce.

Yes, Amazon is truly inspiring.

For all the cynical headlines, the longevity of the workforce speaks for itself. Brilliant people stay employed at Amazon longer than they stay with religion. The culture is more rewarding and the tenets are more modern.

I stayed at Amazon for 8 months. I think of my time there as a kind of cultural immersion, like a study abroad in a foreign land. 8 months is longer than a good affair and shorter than a bad marriage. 8 months was long enough for Amazon to become a part of me.

You can take the entrepreneur out of Amazon, but you can’t take Amazon out of the entrepreneur.

At 6:30am, there is no traffic as you drive across the bridge from Bellevue to Seattle. Podcasts sound better at 6:30am. At 6:30am, even the Amazon workforce is still rubbing the sleep out of its eyes before beginning their march into the office.

Parking at Amazon cost me $25 per day, a daily reminder of Amazon’s prideful frugality. My blue badge gave me access to most of the buildings across the sweeping campus. It was like having a ticket to huge theme park. And at 6:30am, I had all of the rides to myself.