Amazon Positions

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This page is temporary and hidden... I've used it to make note of a few terms Amazon uses.

Random forests, naive Bayesian estimators, RESTful services, gossip protocols, eventual consistency, data sharding, anti-entropy, Byzantine quorum, erasure coding, vector clocks ... walk into certain Amazon meetings, and you may momentarily think you've stumbled into a computer science lecture.-- Jeff Bezos, 2010 Shareholder letter.


Amazon's Main Stats

• Amazon's annual revenue: $50 billion (2011) (see Wikipedia)
• Amazon's annual profit: $630 million (2011 net income)
• Amazon's share price: $190 (April 2012) (see NASDAQ: AMZN)
• Amazon's stock market value: $86 billion (April 2012)
• Amazon's number of employees: 56,000 (2012) (and can grow up to 30% a year)
• Founded: 1994 by Jeff Bezos, who is now Chairman, President & CEO
• Location: Headquarters Seattle, but about 20 locations.
• Servies: 7 countries and has 21 fulfillment centers around the globe.
• Customer base: ~30 million people

Profit Model is primarily a retail site with a sales revenue model - it makes money by taking a small % of the sale price of each item sold through its website. Amazon also allows companies to advertise their products by paying to be listed as featured products.

Amazon's Main Products

Amazon is more than just an online store - they has a huge amount of computer resourcing and provide services for clustered computing, networking, content delivery, salable databases, deployment/management products, application services, payment and crowd-sourcing. Some of their main products are:

  • Amazon Store - online shopping for electronics, apparel, computers, books and almost anything. What gives Amazon such a great public rep is probably their great customer service - they do returns and can e-mail/text every step in delivery. Also their prices are cheap as they don't include state stales tax (because their only physical presence is in Seattle).
  • Amazon Cloud Drive - comes with 5 GB of free storage for personal use.
  • Amazon Kindle - a cheap tablet for reading books.
  • Amazon Mechanical Turk (mTurk) - enables companies to access thousands of global workers on demand for simple "HITs" (Human Intelligence Tasks).
  • Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) - a web service that provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud. Amazon EC2 presents a true virtual computing environment and is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.
  • ... and more products listed here.

Amazon Kindle Fire

  • Amazon Kindle Fire:
    • $200 RRP.
    • 14% tablet market share following soaring sales in in last quarter of 2011 where 3.9 million Fire tablets were shipped. (stats here).
    • Apple's market share in the tablet arena dropped from 64% in Q3 to 57% in Q4, with Fire nabbing 14% (2011). -- Techcrunch Feb 2012.
    • US = ~half of tablet sales.

Working at Amazon

  • We look for the best employees available, and relocate approximately 80% of our corporate work force - please go to [1] for a bit more detail in regards to relocation benefits.
  • Forbes says: "Amazon is the most reputable company in the U.S. in 2011 because consumers believe that it stands for more than what it sells," says Anthony Johndrow, managing partner at Reputation Institute. Read more about what Forbes says about Amazon.

Questions I Have

Answered Questions

  • Training... is any provided?
    • Yes, Training starts on the first day, there is lots of info provided and formal training lessons each week where you can upgrade your skills. Also they have a mentor program where you can have up to 2-3 mentors to help you progress and get to the stage where you contribute code.
  • Hiring process
    • Initial phone interview (~20-30 mins), then technical phone interview (~45-60 mins) and possibly one more. Next they have 6-7 people interviewed on site, and 2-3 business days later they make their decision and try to relocate that person to start as quick as possibly. Usually they interview for two roles at a time and are looking for professionals. They take care of relocation and all legal paperwork stuff efficiently.
  • What are the main technologies Amazon uses.
    • Depends on the project, but generally Amazon likes to use object oriented languages - Java or C++... sometimes C#. On the database side SQL, Oracle.
  • Tell me about the Amazon's main headquarters
    • Amazon has a "campus" with approximately 14 buildings located ~5 mins walk from downtown Seattle. Sounds pretty big and includes lots of internationals.
  • How big are teams / groups
    • Teams are smaller size ~5-10 people working closely together and usually sitting closely together in an open office. People also usually interact with their larger group however, which (depending on the group) can be much bigger. Managers are very hands on and have technical expertise.
  • Opportunities
    • Amazon has many software development jobs (development lifecycle), but also research scientist jobs doing things like data mining and machine learning - a statistical background is preferred for these roles.
  • Workforce
    • Amazon can grow up to 30% each year, so many people are new, but some have been around up to 10 years since it all started.

Unanswered Questions

  • Tell me a bit more about the job / Inventory Planning & Control (IPC) group
  • What kind of other skills are you looking for?
  • Where is Amazon investing its resources and workforce: Amazon Turk..... Amazon Kindle etc.
  • Average starting salary for PhDs / software engineers.

Job Descriptions

Job 146777: Software Development Engineer

  • Description:
    • The Buying Strategy team in the Inventory Planning & Control (IPC) group is responsible for the design, development and support of critical systems that simulate, predict and optimize Amazon's buying decisions worldwide. The goal is to replace intuition, spreadsheets and trial knowledge with automation and algorithms. You will have end-to-end ownership of software that simulates millions of products on a continuous basis, from initial design to production execution. As such, you should be adept at designing and implementing low-maintenance, robust, fault-tolerant and highly scalable systems.
    • Due to the wide variety of inputs and outputs relevant to the supply-chain simulation systems, you must be able to cleanly integrate with data services provided by other teams, as well as provide access to our data to external systems and internal reporting tools. Familiarity with large data sets, parallel systems, and optimization procedures is desirable, but not required.
    • Our development and release cycles are biweekly, giving you the opportunity for instant impact. Come be a part of something big! It's still day one at IPC Buying Strategy!
  • Basic Qualifications
    • B.S. in Computer Science or related field
      • YES - Bach CS and honors, specialty IT professional, then PhD in computational and cell biology
    • Experience in an object-oriented programming language such as Java, C or C++
      • ~5 years experience programming C++ for microscopy image analysis software (IMOD)... and prior to that a couple of years experience in undergraduate... OpenGL / Qt favorite libraries... lots of little side projects. IMOD = tools for semi-automated segmentation, including novel 3D shape morphing/interpolation algorithms and 3D analysis of geometries.
    • Experience in writing technical documents.
      • No format experience in technical docs, but a good writer and very big on documentation - I document almost everything. I'm adept at setting up and writing wiki pages... have my own MediaWiki with ~200 articles on various topics... and also experienced with Atlassian Confluence and just started playing with Google Sites (ridiculously easy).
  • Preferred Qualifications
    • Good understanding of Unix/Linux platform
      • Pretty good - I don't use Linux computers often, BUT I do use the unix terminal in Mac OS X all the time.
    • Familiarity with at least one scripting language such as Perl or Ruby.
      • Never used Ruby, but I do program all my website using PHP
    • Solid experience in working with at least one relational DatabaseManagementSystem
      • My own DB are MySQL, Most recently setup and began playing with postgreSQL and postGIS
    • Have a good understanding of SQL and performance tuning aspects
      • I can do all the basics in setting up a new relational database, but I'm not an advanced user.
    • Strong desire to build high-performance, highly-available and scalable distributed systems
      • Always fascinated me... scale-able systems.

Job 155808: Operations Research Scientist

  • Description:
    • The world-wide Inventory Planning and Control (IPC) group is looking for a passionate, talented and inventive Operations Research Scientist who is comfortable communicating to senior leaders to join the team.
    • As a member of the IPC team you will be responsible for coming up with creative strategies to optimize Amazon's inventory in order to achieve the best experience for our customers at the lowest cost. This position will focus on identifying and analyzing opportunities to improve simulation methods in order to improve accuracy of short and long-term predictions. The systematic ability to predict future impact of buying policies and decisions on key supply chain metrics is challenging and paramount in the world-wide retail and operations spaces.
    • The successful candidate will be a person who enjoys and excels at diving into data to analyze root causes and implementing long term solutions in systems or processes. This position offers opportunity for immediate impact through updates to the models in our systems and creation of effective metrics and functionality.
  • Responsibilities include:
    • Providing business analysis using mathematical modeling tools to answer important questions for IPC
    • Partnering closely with many groups such as operations, IT, retail, and finance teams to support various business initiatives
    • Effectively communicating with senior management as well as with colleagues from computer science, operations research, and business backgrounds.
    • Utilizing outstanding problem solving and analytical skills
  • Basic Qualifications
    • Masters degree in operations research, statistics, engineering, mathematics, or computer science
    • Experience with developing system prototypes
    • Experience with SQL and Statistical tools
    • Experience utilizing problem solving and analytical skills
    • Experience with large scale simulation tools/applications
  • Preferred Qualifications
    • PhD degreein operations research, statistics, engineering, mathematics, or computer science and/o at least 2 years of related work experience
    • Technical aptitude and familiarity with the design and use of complex logistics software systems
    • Project management experience desired for working on cross-functional projects
    • Familiarity with inventory planning concepts - forecasting, planning, optimization, and logistics - gained through work experience or graduate level education
    • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
    • Experience with large-scale datasets


My study notes:

Pages to Study

Extra Glossary Terms

See Also