A9.com Reviews | Glassdoor

A9.com Reviews

Updated January 23, 2017
33 reviews

Filter

Filter

Full-time Part-time

3.6
Star Star Star Star Star
Rating Trends Rating Trends
Recommend to a friend
Approve of CEO
(no image)
Brian Pinkerton
11 Ratings

33 Employee Reviews

Sort: Popular Rating Date

  1. 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


  2. Helpful (6)

    "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.


  3. 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.


  4. Is this helpful? The community relies on everyone sharing – Add Anonymous Review


  5. 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.


  6. Helpful (1)

    "Good work culture, but pay could be even competitive"

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

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

    Pros

    Great work culture, very interesting problems in search and cloud areas
    Innovation and recognition for great work
    Fast paced, ample learning opportunities in emerging areas like Big data and cloud
    Company sponsored events and activities, snacks

    Cons

    Pay is better but could be even more competitive, however Amazon stocks rock

    Advice to Management

    Keep up the good work culture and the innovation that defines A9 brand.


  7. Helpful (3)

    "Good place to work but not good for a long time"

    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

    Pros

    Search and Ad are all challenging subjects.
    Good location.

    Cons

    Political, business oriented, not many choices on what you gonna working on.
    It's still part of amazon, needs to follow amazon rules.


  8. "amazon rules at a9"

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

    Pros

    great location downtown palo alto. work with a world class infrastructure. potential impact on all amazon properties. pager duty can be demanding.

    Cons

    low quality development tools, cheapest laptops possible to be used for fulltime work. frequent mission changes.

    Advice to Management

    this is back from 2011, but developers do better work with better tools. invest in higher quality workstations/laptops.


  9. Helpful (19)

    "One of the best companies in Silicon Valley, highly recommend"

    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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at A9.com full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    1) very friendly and family-like atmosphere (not everyone feels this way, your mileage may vary, but it was true for me and it's true for many people)
    2) location allows for lunch in Palo Alto downtown restaurants
    3) 2 minutes walking from Palo Alto caltrain
    4) very healthy work life balance for OK performers, also plenty of opportunities for running extra mile but unlike some other companies there's no peer pressure to actually run extra mile, people do it behind the scenes thanks to flexibility (next point)
    5) a lot of flexibility in schedule: 80% of people work 9:30-6, but core business hours when meetings are scheduled are normally 11-4 (depending on a team). many teams allow working from home 1-2 days a week, depending on a project, etc.
    6) unique high scale projects executed by very small workforce relative to how other companies solve similar problems (really an opportunity to contribute a lot and put cool stuff on your resume), little overhead and a lot of freedoms in getting things done, smart engineers.
    7) local culture is different from Amazon's Seattle, there's some layer of isolation (good thing)

    Cons

    (some of it didn't apply to me personally, but I should highlight it anyway)
    8) salary is competitive only to some point, it's bigger than most startups and mid-range companies but may be smaller than some large tech competitors can offer,
    9) Amazon's motivation system (which unfortunately in place with the subsidiaries as well) is screwed in various ways:
    9.1) reward loop may be anywhere from 1.5 to 2.5 years from the moment you did something cool to the moment you actually receive that extra stock (annual perf process with new stock grant given with half a year delay, and this stock grant only vests in a year),
    9.2) there's a punishment if Amazon stock goes up, your pending unvested shares seem to be regularly re-evaluated at current market rate, and for a new grant you only get a delta of how much you deserve minus how much you're already getting (this may be zero for high performers if stock has grew by a lot),
    9.3) there's also a punishment if Amazon stock goes down - you just get less that year, because any new compensation for the difference will vest only a year later;
    based on my general observations, A9 probably does some tweaks to soften the effect of this stupid system, but it cannot completely dismiss the system;
    10) probably due to the fact A9 is small and family-like, there's some notable variety in skills and personalities of managers in various groups; this, depending on your own personality and skills, may be beneficial for you or not so.
    11) there are some gaps in common infrastructure such as source, build and deployment systems, which are outside of A9's control, and they either hurt productivity or require unwanted hacks or home-grown solutions, where instead the common infrastructure should get fixed.

    Advice to Management

    Jeff Bezos should read p.9 and fix the compensation system. This will be a major win.
    After that is done, Jeff Bezos should read p.11 and give more love (and headcount?) to the common Amazon infrastructure teams.


  10. Helpful (5)

    "Better than Amazon, challenging work, great pay"

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

    I have been working at A9.com full-time (Less than a year)

    Pros

    - Work is really good and challenging. Projects involving distributed systems, AWS, machine learning, ad technology, graphics (visual search team)
    - Work with Amazon infrastructure and internal tools
    - Coworkers are very knowledgeable and professional
    - Great location, right beside Caltrain in Palo Alto, so you can live anywhere in Bay Area and commute
    - Decent office space, its not open office like most tech companies, which I preferred
    - Good compensation, better than amazon

    Cons

    - Not enough perks compared to other tech companies
    - Office space is too crammed, only 2 buildings near each other in Palo Alto, sharing one office room with 3-4 people
    - Frugality of Amazon (less frugal though, you get cereal pop etc)

    Advice to Management

    Try to have more team spirit


  11. Helpful (14)

    "Worst one compared with other giant Intenet companies"

    Star Star Star Star Star
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Software Development Engineer II in Palo Alto, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at A9.com full-time (More than 3 years)

    Pros

    -Can work on exciting technologies, AWS, DynamoDB, EC2.
    -Be well trained to work on well-built infrastructure and cloud. Have deep understanding of distributed and Internet technologies.

    Cons

    -Worst pay compared with other public Internet companies. Little RSU in the first 3 years. Almost work for no bonus.
    -No free lunch, no snacks (though some cheap nuts, no one wants to touch), no gym, no team event (cut budget), no engineering offsite, only work, release, rollout then work, move fast
    -Worst middle level management, no vision, no technical skills, no understanding of Internet business, arrogant, doing nothing, except slave people to work.
    -Employee turn over rate is very short.

    Advice to Management

    Engineers are the most valuable assets in the company. Instead of wasting money on hiring a bunch of highly paid, doing nothing managers from nowhere, why not give out more to people who actually are doing the work.



Showing 33 of 41 reviews
Reset Filters