‘Amazon still has a winning culture at their core,’ and other comments of the week

There was plenty of chatter on GeekWire this past week as discussions and debate arose over a variety of topics, from Amazon.com’s AWS outage to the best way to split equity among co-founders at startup companies. Continue reading for some of our favorite comments.

BigDoor CEO Keith Smith followed up his criticism of Amazon.com’s lack of communication during the massive AWS outage with a 5-point tip list about what companies should do to handle technical crisis communication. Smith thinks Amazon is now on the right path:

My sense is that catastrophic events like this tend to demonstrate to the outside world what the true culture of the company is. If the company has a culture of ignoring problems and only focusing on the good stuff they do, then that will likely become apparent. (Amazon could certainly take this approach because AWS makes up a very small piece of an otherwise mostly very healthy business – so this issue could easily be swept under the rug and forgotten about.) However, companies with winning cultures turn catastrophes into seminal and defining moments, and use the learnings from bad things to make huge improvements and advances.  Today’s apology and public explanation of the “Great Re-Mirroring Storm of 2011″ gives me hope that Amazon still has a winning culture at their core.

Full story and discussion: Amazon apologizes for outage, promises big improvements in communication


Former Microsoftie and Seattle startup guru Mike Koss offered some wonderful personal experiences and insights in his review of Paul Allen’s memoir, “Idea Man.” Reader RudyGr responded:

Personally, I don’t see this as some vendetta to get even with Bill. Rather, I see Paul trying to rewrite history where he is given more credit for the achievements of Microsoft and innovations made in PC industry. Sadly in 100 years when folks read through the history books on the dawn of the PC era, I think Paul Allen will merely be a minor footnote.

Full story and discussion: Idea Man? Ex-Microsoft geek reviews Paul Allen’s memoir


Microsoft’s much derided virtual assistant Clippy is making a comeback of sorts, and readers (not surprisingly) hate the idea. Tim Reha wrote:

Aaaaaa! Next thing Jar Jar Binks will be back…. Help us!

Full story and discussion: Microsoft brings Clippy back … for Office training game


How should co-founders split equity at startup companies? That was the question that Sparkbuy CEO Dan Shapiro attempted to answer in a insightful guest post which sparked an amazing discussion on GeekWire. It was hard for us to pick a favorite among the more than 50 comments, so we’re choosing two which highlighted both sides of the debate. Reader Peter Clark disagreed with Shapiro’s premise:

You’re a founding team, this is the rock solid base you’ll require till your Initial Public Offering and beyond. Everyone needs the same thing to risk, and the same reward. The great thing about startups is you can judge employees and founders on their potential rather than their past (eg: worked at Google and have $100k in bank vs other founder who is college drop out), and obviously you only work with the highest calibre people … so why isn’t it equal? Additionally, having say, 49-51 split “for when arguments arise” is a terrible reason: if you can’t debate your company to a decision between the founding team, or do not have the trust to lean on one of your founders, that is a problem.

But some readers defended the concept of an unequal split of equity among founders, including Hark founder David Aronchick who wrote:

50/50 almost never is the right exact split – someone nearly always brings more to the table, and, even if they don’t, someone ALWAYS has the more public face. That person should get the bigger chunk – they are putting more on the line. Regardless – this is a great “rule of thumb” to address an issue, that, if left unsettled, just gets worse over time.

Full story and discussion: The only wrong answer is 50/50: Calculating the co-founder equity split


Apple continues take heat over its claims to the trademark “App Store.” One reader was simply fed up:

It’s like owning the term grocery store or department store. It’s a category not a trademark.

Full story and discussion: Amazon.com tries to toss Apple ‘app store’ trademark suit, cites Steve Jobs in its own defense


Thanks again to everyone for the comments, and for making GeekWire a vibrant and growing community. We’ve got some big things in store for the month of May, so stay tuned.

  • http://www.competitionhunter.com Iain

    Mistakes are made and lessons are learnt. C’est la vie.