A few years ago, Manu Cornet, a Google programmer published a now famous set of diagrams depicting the organizational charts of big tech companies that later made its way to the pages of New York Times and recently Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s new book Hit Refresh. When I came across the diagrams then, I found it to be spot on in its representation of all the major tech companies, particularly Amazon with its neatly laid out org structure.
Fast forward a few years, and having now worked in multiple Amazon teams, I’ve come to realize that there’s not one Amazon structure. Each org works differently and each team within those orgs works a little differently. In fact, “depends on the team” is the oft-repeated statement to describe anything and everything Amazon, both inside and outside the company. What’s funny is that each team thinks they are Amazon: AWS thinks Amazon = AWS (especially since they supposedly bring all the profit); Amazon Video thinks they embody Amazon’s leadership like none else; if you ask Retail, of course, they think they are Amazon, after all, that’s where it all began. The truth is that none of them truly represent Amazon. Here’s my best attempt to adapt the original Manu Cornet version to depict the org structures of different Amazon teams.
All right, all right, all right, I’m just kidding; it’s not exactly like that.
But joking aside, Amazon, in my view, is structured into several self-contained business units. While officially, Amazon has “only” three CEOs, I believe that each of the other businesses, such as Devices, can grow to have their own CEOs eventually. And businesses within can grow to have their own SVPs (for instance, SVP for Alexa, SVP for Physical Stores and so on). Theoretically the central Finance, HR and other functions may report directly to Jeff B. and support all business units; but for all practical purposes there are separate teams within these central functions to support the disparate business units. Here’s a view of what that looks like.
Goes without saying that there are large businesses within each of these, for e.g. EC2 in AWS, or FBA & Marketplace in Ecommerce. Similarly, each of these follow a single threaded leadership model with self-contained product, software, and s&m teams that allow them to, for the most part, move fast, experiment and build their businesses, eventually charting their own course and creating their own destiny.
Note: This blog post does not contain confidential Amazon information; these are my personal views and does not represent the views of Amazon or its management.