Kivin Varghese, a former Amazon employee involved in a protracted legal dispute with the company, says he will protest outside Amazon’s Seattle headquarters for six to 10 hours a day until the company addresses his allegations of deceptive and unethical business practices, as laid out in a 29-page letter from Varghese to CEO Jeff Bezos and the Amazon board.
“I don’t care whether it takes days, weeks, months, or longer,” says Varghese, pictured here as he began what he described as a “quiet vigil” this morning at Amazon HQ in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.
In his letter and lawsuit, Varghese alleges that his former manager and Amazon executives covered up problems that caused an Amazon advertising customer, Discover, to waste hundreds of thousands of dollars on a Kindle advertising campaign.
He alleges that he was fired in retaliation for raising the issues internally — using backdated and falsified performance reviews to justify his termination — and that his manager was subsequently promoted despite evidence that her own resume contained false information.
“Decisions at the company are made based on maximizing free cash flow, at the expense of ethics, transparency, and customer trust,” he said. “This is a cultural problem that must be fixed before Amazon gets even more powerful.”
After two years in litigation, Varghese says he has grown frustrated with the legal process. He has filed a complaint with the Washington State Attorney General, and hopes to raise public awareness through his protest, to bring about change.
Varghese, the former CEO of online ad startup BrandPort, is asking supporters to stop buying from Amazon.com and instead use local retailers and other online marketplaces until the company addresses the issues he has raised.
We’ve contacted Amazon for comment on the protest and the issues raised by Varghese. [Update: An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.]
It’s unclear how the situation will play out. In the past, protesters have been moved to the sidewalk, off Amazon’s property. Varghese vows that he “will be there everyday until Jeff does what I believe a CEO needs to do in this situation — fix the serious issues that cut to the heart of the company’s culture and behavior.”