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ROUND TRIP

Steve Ballmer says Microsoft employees who leave for Amazon eventually come back

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer delivers his keynote speech during the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference in Boston, Tuesday, July 11, 2006. (AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki)
AP Photo/Chitose Suzuki
And back they come.
By Alice Truong

Deputy editor

Published Last updated on This article is more than 2 years old.

Steve Ballmer doesn’t think Amazon would be a great place to work either.

Adding fuel to a damning New York Times report on Amazon’s intense work culture, the former Microsoft CEO says that many employees who leave Microsoft for Amazon eventually come back.

“We could count on them coming back within a year or two because it’s not a great place to work, to do innovative stuff as an engineer,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg TV today (Oct. 23).

The New York Times story, published Aug. 15, characterized Amazon as “a bruising workplace,” where overworked employees cry at their desks, are criticized for not being available on vacation, and scheme against each other to climb the corporate ladder.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has since shot back on the newspaper’s depiction of the company’s culture, noting in an internal memo that employees “would be crazy to stay” if the details in the story were accurate. “I know I would leave such a company,” he added.

As the two biggest tech companies in the Seattle area, Microsoft and Amazon are in fierce competition for employees, Ballmer acknowledged. “Remember, it’s not Silicon Valley where everybody’s moving between every company all the time,” he said. “Many, many people round trip—not everybody—but many people round trip.”

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