Dear Tech CEOs: Yes, That Is Your Culture.

Wishing and proclaiming it isn’t doesn’t make it so.

It is common, when stories break about horrible company cultures in — as one did this week about Uber, and as one did last year about Amazon — for the CEOs to say things like:

What she describes is abhorrent and against everything Uber stands for and believes in. (Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s statement quoted at Recode)
Travis Kalanick


The article doesn’t describe the Amazon I know or the caring Amazonians I work with every day. (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ statement quoted at Geekwire)
Jeff Bezos

The problem with this is simple. You can say all day that these events don’t represent your culture. But they do. And if you’re not aware of it, that means you have two problems: the culture problem, and the fact that you’re so out of touch with what your company is actually like that you don’t know it has that culture problem.

And you have one other, even bigger problem. If that’s the culture of the company you’ve built, it’s your fault. You can’t foist it off on your underlings: you hired them. You can’t foist it off on the bureaucracy: you built it. You can’t foist it off on wrong priorities: you set those priorities. It’s on you.

Originally published at

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