Amazon’s writing culture, explained - The Hustle
The Hustle

Amazon’s writing culture, explained

Two longtime Amazon exes just wrote a book about the company, including why they write memos instead of using PowerPoint.

Jeff Bezos writing his annual shareholder letter (Source: Giphy)

Making fun of PowerPoint presentations is a popular pastime in corporate America (to be fair, they really do suck).

Back in 2004, Jeff Bezos actually did something about it: In lieu of crafting a PowerPoint, Amazon employees had to write a narrative-driven, 6-page memo before executive meetings.

In their new book Working Backwards, longtime Amazon execs Bill Carr and Colin Bryar explain the company’s writing culture, including why memos are better than PowerPoint:

It’s not just memos, either

The book’s title comes from Amazon’s product development philosophy: Instead of creating a product and then finding customers, Amazon asks, “What does the customer need?” and works backwards toward a product.

As part of the process, employees write a mock press release, which accomplishes a few things:

If you want a PowerPoint of this article, email us and we definitely won’t get back to you.(Check out the book’s authors on the a16z podcast for much more.)

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