A9.com Reviews | Glassdoor

A9.com Reviews

Updated December 13, 2017
41 reviews

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3.8
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Brian Pinkerton
15 Ratings

41 Employee Reviews

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  1. "Technical Data Analyst"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    Great Culture. Full of intelligent and energetic people around you to encourage learning.

    Cons

    Promotion from mid to higher level is hard


  2. "Still day 1"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Current Employee - Software Engineer in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook

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

    Pros

    Despite being a well established company A9 still maintains a dynamic culture. Lots of decisions are engineering-driven. The infrastructure is very mature and it allows to spin off very complex projects quickly. People are exceptionally smart. Good pipeline of young talent from top universities and an established base of highly qualified experienced professionals.

    Cons

    frequent office moves. growing disconnect between different departments at A9 .

    Advice to Management

    thinks work well as is

  3. "Great Company"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Great workplace. A lot less stressful than what I was expecting.

    Cons

    Needs to achieve the status of AWS and the marketplace in terms of power/profits. The ads and search need to be at Google's level. Right now Amazon is still the underdog in these areas.

    Advice to Management

    Keep doing what you do! Try to listen to engineers and give engineers the time to work on shiny new tech


  4. "Software Development Engineer"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Recommends
    Neutral Outlook
    No opinion of CEO

    I have been working at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    Good work life balance
    Lots of opportunities to learn

    Cons

    Business decisions are more than engineering decisions sometime.


  5. "Best Place I have ever worked at!"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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

    I have been working at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    I have been working in startups for the past 5-6 years and each place had some glaring issues. Either certain teams wielded too much influence or the decisions made by the executives were not to the benefit of the whole team. At A9 I feel like my work is appreciated and I am surrounded by some of the smartest people I have ever worked with. The team really focuses on a work/life balance and making sure you are not burnt out. It's not to say you don't work hard but there are reasonable expectations set. What is really exciting is that you have the backing of Amazon but are able to work in a nimble and fast way similar to a startup.

    Cons

    The Amazon culture is not for everyone so make sure you know what you are getting yourself into before joining. Certain people will thrive here and others will not like it. There is always a wish to have more perks (free food, sponsored lunch/happy hours) but it doesn't deter from the experience.


  6. "Product manager"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    Good location and challenging project

    Cons

    Not yet to commenting for now


  7. "Good place to work"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Business in Palo Alto, CA
    Former Employee - Business in Palo Alto, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

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

    Pros

    Strong growth, Amazon brand, super location

    Cons

    leadership sucks - plays favorites, upward mobility is tough

    Advice to Management

    walk the talk regarding leadership principles

  8. "Software Engineer II"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at A9.com full-time

    Pros

    Good team work and location

    Cons

    Too much work load than I've expected


  9. Helpful (1)

    "Good place to work at"

    StarStarStarStarStar
    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


  10. Helpful (17)

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

    StarStarStarStarStar
    • 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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