CIO Briefing


Amazon's Despised Management Tool Could Be Coming to Your Office

By Tim Fernholz // Quartz // August 17, 2015

Ken Wolter/

Who doesn’t enjoy a good round of brutal criticism? A lot of former Amazon employees, apparently.

In a deep dive into the corporate culture fostered at internet mega-retailer Amazon by founder Jeff Bezos, the New York Times reports on a piece of management software that is particularly controversial among the company’s employees: The tool, called “Collaborative Anytime Feedback,” was built into the company directory and allowed workers to send feedback about their colleagues directly to managers.

At Amazon, it reportedly became a powerful weapon in a culture that demanded complete commitment and brutal honesty. Workers said that annual firings of bottom-performing employees—”stack ranking“—led to the abuse and manipulation of the feedback system, including criticism pasted verbatim into performance reviews. A company spokesperson said most of the feedback generated by the tool is complimentary.

Workers using the system were offered boilerplate text to frame their complaints, including one suggestion printed in the Times: “I felt concerned about his inflexibility and openly complaining about minor tasks.”

Amazon built a digital retail rival to Walmart with a culture of frugality and an obsession with solving customer problems. But eighty-hour weeks, ruthless competition and little patience for family and health...

This Is How the Modern-Day Tech Resume Should Look

By Mike McGarr // Quartz // August 13, 2015

Flickr user Flazingo Photos

After I had gone through the Netflix recruiting process, it struck me that nobody ever asked me for a resume. The recruiting team already had all the information they needed that you would normally find on a resume. This information was readily available online. My profile on LinkedIn, my Twitter feed, my Github profile, and my blog all provided a comprehensive resume, more detailed than a two page resume. My online presence serves as my resume, a modern technical resume.

Since going through this process, I have talked to a number of friends who are looking to make a career change. I wanted to provide some recommendations for those who don’t have a strong online presence. Beefing up your online presence will help you not only get noticed, but also help companies find out if you are the right fit. If you’re lucky, people will be lining out the door to have you work at their company.


The first place you should start is LinkedIn. LinkedIn has become the go-to site for recruiters to begin searching for candidates. Having an up-to-date and detailed LinkedIn profile can do wonders for making yourself discoverable. If you already have a...

Future Offices Will Look A Lot Like 'Harry Potter'

By Olga Khazan // The Atlantic // August 11, 2015

Hattanas Kumchai/

The office of the future probably won’t look like something out of The Jetsons, with levitating desks and workers who communicate telepathically. But it could resemble a different fictional realm.

“It’s going to look a lot more like Harry Potter,” says Ben Waber, the co-founder of Humanyze, a start-up that focuses on “people analytics” (more on that later).

What he means is that offices will appear much as they do today—only with a few magical flourishes here and there. Harry Potter’s world still has staircases, after all, but ones that can move themselves around the building. Similarly, Waber predicts that the white-collar workers of, say, 2030 will commute to normal-looking offices and sip coffee at normal-looking desks. But the company’s espresso machine might, for example, be programmed to find the two teams that need to collaborate on a project and roll itself into position so that those workers will get up and spitball ideas over cappuccinos.

That’s just Waber’s prediction, of course, but it jibes with the thinking of others I recently interviewed, including architects, designers, researchers, and entrepreneurs. Office furniture and gadgets will watch what we do and, in some cases, report...

#ILookLikeAnEngineer Challenges Sexism and Showcases Real Women in Tech

By Maria Sanchez Diez // Quartz // August 6, 2015

Isis Anchalee/Medium

First it was #GirlsWithToys, then #DistractinglySexy. Now #ILookLikeAnEngineer has become the latest hashtag that women in science are using to fight sexism and challenge perceptions of what people in the field should look like.

This campaign started when Isis Anchale, a 22-year-old engineer at the identity management firm OneLogin, agreed to participate in a recruiting ad for her company, which ended up in San Francisco’s subway system.

The poster received lots of sexist comments based on Anchale’s attractive appearance.

 “I think they want to appeal to women, but are probably just appealing to dudes,” wrote one Facebook commenter. “Perhaps that’s the intention all along. But I’m curious people with brains find this quote remotely plausible and if women in particular buy this image of what a female software engineer looks like.”

Anchale responded in a Medium essay on Aug. 1 in which she told of other experiences she had suffered as a woman tech, which included having men throwing dollar bills at her and having a colleague ask her to be “friends with benefits” during an interview process.

She wrote:

There is a significant lack of empathy and insight towards recognizing that their “playful/harmless” behavior...

Here's the Right Way to Make Email Introductions

By Anand Sanwal // Quartz // July 20, 2015


If you are introducing two people without using a double opt-in intro, you have a high likelihood of being a terrible person. Yup–I said it.

First, what’s a single opt-in intro?

Very simply, a single opt-in intro is where you are introduced to someone via email without them giving you a heads up prior and getting your consent to make the intro.

Let me explain using an example. In this example, Joe wants to introduce Jack to his friend Mary.

He sends an email to Mary and cc: Jack.

Hey Mary,

Wanted to introduce you to Jack (cc’d) who runs an “Uber for granite countertops”. They’re killing it and are really disrupting the granite space. They’re also making the world a better place.

Think you guys are doing similar things, tackling similar problems, etc. so you should chat.

I’ll leave it to you to connect.

Hope all is well.



This is a terrible introduction for a few reasons:

  • No respect for time: The email which takes Joe 30 seconds to write commits Mary’s time. Mary is supposed to get coffee or hop on the phone with Jack because Joe...