[Update: I fixed Werner's name, (traurig, Werner) and you should know that Werner did put an apology on his post; love is in the air.]
You’ve probably noticed that a bunch of big companies are getting this or that smart person to come by and chat with the troops on particular topics. Seth Godin was recently at Google, for example, and gave a great talk which is on Google Videos when you search for Seth Godin.
As well, we all know that Amazon’s good guy, of course is one each, smiling Jeff Bezos.
The company, generally, gets good marks for customer service, being responsive, etc, etc. Good people, all around, esp. given the size of the company and sheer number of moving parts/people/customers.
Enter Amazon’s bad boy one each Werner Vogels.
First, note the slight difference here. One guy is happy with a ray gun. One guy looks like he wants a real gun. But enough about them. Werner is Amazon’s CTO. We’ll be back to Werner in a minute.
Shel Israel (co-author Naked Conversations) has been making the rounds with his assistant, giving speeches/talks to various Rotary Clubs, Tupperware Parties, Chamber of Commerce Organizations as, surprise, Amazon. Amazon invites the boyz in to have a chat about blogging and, of course, Shel and that other guy, make the case about blogging being important to corporations, etc, etc. All good stuff, all worth discussing/debating, etc.
Well, you just have to know were this is heading. The Amazon people ‘don’t get it’ was the general conclusion by Robert/Shel which you can read about here. I encourage you to read all of Robert’s post as well as the comments. Robert was nice and polite to Amazon. Very nice.
Now back to Werner. Rather then be polite to his guests, he heads to blog land and proceeds to blast the speakers.
“…they appear shocked that we used a critical voice to address their work. Welcome to life at Amazon, we set a very high bar for our own works and we expect anyone that comes to sell us an approach to actually be prepared to really defend their ideas.”
“…appeared shell-shocked that anyone actually had the guts to challenge the golden wonder boys of blogging and not accept their religion instantly. I have been a promoter of weblogging for a long time, so I didn't feel particularly bad to challenge these two authors”
“ I myself actually knew some of the answers to my questions, but I was surprised to see that these guys were not prepared enough to slap me around with solid answers.”
Shel responded with his own blog posting here.
“I was surprised again by Werner's post, who characterized our visit as something that sounded a bit like the old Buckley-Galbraith Firing Line. The Amazon people who prepped me for this meeting , had just said Amazon wanted to hear about blogging and why they should do more of it. I don't often avoid confrontations, but this felt pretty much like the wrong forum for butting heads with our host's executive officer who was behaving like he was locked and loaded for bear hunting.”
“I don't know how Werner treats his guests in his own home, but the way he behaved just isn't the way I treat guests in mine. Werner, if you want to have a public debate on how Amazon could improve its customer relationships with more employee blogs or corporate blogs, please name the time and place--as well as the neutral referee. I require only two rules. (1) Let me have my say next time, without you interrupting, and (2) Let's both agree to the same agenda before we go public with it.”
I rarely go on what one person says or writes, so I contacted some internal Amazon people that I’ve known for years and, yep, ol Warner left his Miss Manners book on the shelf at home. Rude was the common theme from internal Amazon people.
Lessons for the start up to follow after a word from our sponsor INDIGO, your friendly bookseller with friendly Canadian executives.
Werner, cough up the apology, follow Jeff’s lead (smile already!) and leave the arrogance to the professionals.