A9.com Employee Reviews | Glassdoor

A9.com Reviews

Updated February 19, 2017
35 reviews

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3.7
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Brian Pinkerton
13 Ratings

35 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Good place to work at"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    Really like my team and the culture

    Cons

    Have not noticed anything so far


  2. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to get early-career experience"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Neutral Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    - Opportunity to work on systems, data, and operations at Amazon scale.
    - Opportunities to take on big projects and make impact early, as teams are often understaffed.
    - New grad compensation is still competitive

    Cons

    - Not enough growth opportunities for senior engineers and managers.
    - Total compensation is noticeably lower then leading Internet companies like Google and Facebook, for experienced engineers.
    - Amazon culture still affects A9.

    Advice to Management

    - Weed out politicians in management. Promote the doers.


  3. Helpful (4)

    "Decent early-career learning opportunities; deteriorating company culture not recommendable to experienced ICs or mgrs"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in Palo Alto, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at A9.com full-time (More than 5 years)

    Pros

    * Unparalleled scale of operation and data at the the world's leading e-commerce site.
    * Potential for high individual impact because of small team sizes compared to other Internet companies.
    * Opportunities to learn use of open source tools and to build up transferable skills.
    * Total compensation for junior positions is commensurate with other big Internet companies.
    * Amazon has stable and easy-to-use infrastructure for host management and deployment (often one-click function).
    * Work-life balance: generous PTO and floating days, increasing with tenure (3 weeks in first year, 4 weeks in second year, more with seniority). Parental leave policy recently expanded.
    * If your enjoy being part of a large Internet company but want to avoid too much of the demanding and labor-intensive environment, with a little astuteness and luck you can have a comfortable life at A9.
    * Location: The Palo Alto office directly faces the Caltrain station; various good lunch options in walking distance.

    Cons

    * Like Amazon in general, A9 used to have a strong focus on doing the right thing for long-term customer satisfaction. I wish I could book this under pros, but sadly things have changed in recent years. Now a myriad of business units with a lot of clout are vying to strong-arm A9 according to their specific needs and short-term agenda. Since management does little to protect an independent, balanced mission, the roadmap is essentially dictated by the squeaky wheel principle. A9 is becoming a tool for many disparate verticals, without overarching independent vision.
    * Not a merit based culture. It is a pervasive trend that talkers are held in awe, while doers are often overlooked. Some people work long hours and weekends, feel responsible for the whole system, save teetering projects they are not really part of, make things work that are too dicey for anyone else to touch. Others mostly enjoy “consulting” or just resting on their (perceived or real) laurels. Both will be treated essentially the same; in fact, the latter group often fares better if they are more talented at selling themselves.
    * Similar breakdown of managers: a few very hardworking, engaged, well-meaning individuals, but these are outnumbered by goal-list checkers and coasters.
    * Management is favored to be non-technical, at every level. The Finance VP was recently promoted to CEO, however the most dire consequences occur at lower levels. ICs that switch to management roles are actively discouraged from technical contributions. Managers never look at code. That leads to several problems: 1) Non-technical managers still end up in roles where they need to make technical decisions; these turn out sometimes ok, sometimes suboptimal, and sometimes disastrous; 2) They cannot accurately judge the performance of their team members, are easily swayed by self-promotion. 3) They cannot make good hiring decisions. 4) They won’t bother to peek under the duct tape covering up the substantial technical debt that has accumulated over years.
    * Many managers shy away from confrontation. Therefore, a few of their reports get away with doing next to nothing for more than a year, without accountability. Some “difficult-to-deal-with” employees are tolerated to do things that are nonsensical if they want to, or to keep hijacking and derailing meetings and decisions. Sometimes such employees happen to be managers themselves, in which case their whole team is led astray for extended periods of time. To make up for wasted efforts, necessary tasks will be piled on to the already long lists of responsibilities of high performers, engaged, motivated, and helpful people. Of course, since these additional tasks come with no additional rewards or recognition (see below), sooner or later, they become frustrated and leave.
    * Hardly any realistic growth perspectives for senior software developers. Amazon’s leveling scheme comprises three IC levels, followed by principal (plus a few higher, rarely awarded ranks). The gap between SDEIII (senior) and principal is as wide as the river Jordan in terms of required processes, hoops to jump through, and strong support by your manager. Therefore, you can count on less than one hand the number of cases at A9 in the last ten years, and these include some in HR and administrative roles. At the same time, a fair number of people has been directly hired at principal level. Often, these hires are based on their resume, self-promotion, or personal connection, but many of these new colleagues would not be capable of qualifying through the internal process.
    * For senior roles, total compensation level is roughly 20-30% below other big Internet companies (my estimate based on colleagues who changed jobs). Generally, A9 follows Amazon compensation policy which is full of obfuscation and completely at odds with Silicon Valley standards. The earliest possible effect of the nominal performance-based stock compensation adjustment is about 1.5-2 years. There is no possible short term reward process, even if you were superman or superwoman and made Amazon 100’s of millions of dollars singlehandedly. A lot of compensation differences arise from negotiation skill during hiring and the market rate at that point in time, these end up in significant and unfair differences between colleagues essentially doing similar work. If there is any correlation between performance and compensation, it is lost as noise in the gyrations of the stock price. You might get lucky one year if the stock soars, but you will also get corrected down the following year.
    * HR (with participation of top management) rules the company with an iron fist. For example, although there is a formal promotion process involving documentation from managers and peers, the final step happens behind closed doors, with no written minutes, and sometimes even without recollection of the reasons for a decision. If you don’t cross all the t’s and dot the i’s in all processes, they will make your life difficult. If you dare to make a suggestion or express your opinion, you will be reminded, in no uncertain terms, to mind your business. However, to be fair: there are certainly a few shining counterexamples of human beings in HR.

    Advice to Management

    You have to actively choose: Are you happy with A9 in a role as a remote service department within Amazon, keeping the wheels spinning as frugally as possible, which implies regular close calls with collapsing. Or: Are you committed to a merit-based system of true technical leadership and an independent vision? No decision is a decision too.


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  5. "Intern"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    Very nice manager and colleagues.

    Cons

    Working space is little crowded.

    Advice to Management

    Very good.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Great community, and the problems you want to have"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    - Always choose your own squeaking wheel to fix
    - Awesome tech community with great potential for self improvement

    Cons

    - Permanently understaffed on all fronts


  7. "nice place to work"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    Pros

    people are smart, offices are nice in downtown palo alto

    Cons

    stock invest for new employee socks


  8. Helpful (4)

    "Lot of politics and low productivity"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Software Development Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at A9.com full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    Pay is OK when amazon stock is doing well
    Palo Alto is a good location
    Good Laptops and large monitors

    Cons

    Some people are overworked and enjoy the same pay and benefits as others.
    No appreciation or recognition for top class work.
    Misrepresentation of work.
    Lack of innovation
    Incompetency is promoted higher up and continue to fail and cover up the failures with politics
    Lacks productivity, could definitely do a lot better if people concentrated on work instead and learn something from Amazon
    Be careful of terms when accepting offer, they may change after start of employment

    Advice to Management

    Follow Amazon Leadership principles and recognize people's hard work.
    Carefully evaluate promotions and set high standards especially in the higher levels.
    Do not promote office politics, let the work do the talking.


  9. Helpful (2)

    "Quality Work but limited Recognition and Appreciation"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer III in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at A9.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    - Better benefits compared to the parent - Amazon (esp medical coverage)
    - Better work environment in terms of coworkers and office space
    - Startup like quality and pace of work
    - Regular access to tech talks and meetups

    Cons

    - Getting recognized and appreciated for the extra effort is poor owing to parent Amazon's similarly lacking compensation mechanism
    - Absence of merit based appreciation
    - Some people are over worked while others are vacationing but at the end of the year, everyone makes the same salary based on your level

    Advice to Management

    Nothing Specific


  10. Helpful (4)

    "Engineering Manager"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    A9 is a subsidiary of Amazon. It has some of the advantages of a medium-size Silicon Valley company: relatively fast paced, a lot of opportunity to take ownership and grow professional skills, strong technology in cloud/search, interesting problems to solve. It also has the resource backing from Amazon, and the opportunity to impact the large business at Amazon. It is a good place for early to mid career engineers to gain valuable experience faster.

    Cons

    Long-term career growth prospect is limited, as A9 stays as a company with a few hundred people. Although A9's culture is more Silicon Valley like, Amazon's demanding, big company culture still impacts many things, especially at cross-organization level. Compensation is not as competitive as companies like Google or Facebook, but when Amazon stock is doing well, it is fairly good.

    Advice to Management

    Maintain a Silicon Valley culture.


  11. Helpful (3)

    "Valuable experience, enjoyed my time"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

    I worked at A9.com full-time (More than a year)

    Pros

    Starting from my on-site interview and even before I started working, I felt like I was joining a family. In comparison, I currently work for a mega-corp nearby, and I felt like a cog in the machine starting from the interview.

    I enjoyed the projects I worked on. They were important to Amazon's business and allowed me to gain extremely valuable experience, both in terms of the types of projects and the technology I got to use.

    Technology is perfectly adequate to get your work done. Most people opt for the 15" MBP, and do most of their development on the laptop. The developer desktops are fairly underpowered, but most people barely use them (it's easier to just use an instance in the cloud and not bother with that desktop sitting under the desk).

    They upgraded the snacks in the summer of 2015, and they're quite good now. You get a nice selection of dried fruits and healthier snacks (excluding the fresh fruits, which run out quickly, the other snacks don't run out which is nice).

    Cons

    If you are not happy with your initial RSU package, you will feel under-payed since the policies are designed to make it hard to increase your pay quickly. Ultimately, comp is a function of the profits/revenue per employee and there's a small handful of companies that can pay higher.



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