Short Bytes: Shel Kaphan, the first Amazon employee, talked about his initial days at Amazon in an interview with The Macro. He left Amazon because his work was reduced from technical to putting a rubber stamp on projects. Connecting with his own experience, Kaphan said something interesting which would benefit the people working at startups.
Last week, Craig Cannon interviewed Shell Kaphan as a part of The Macro’s Employee #1 interview series. In the beginning, Kaphan took care of the development stuff and got Amazon (bookstore) up and running. At one time, he even worked 7 days a week for straight three months and “they weren’t 8-hour days”.
More employees joined Amazon and Kaphan’s work continued to shrink, though, he had the CTO title on his desk. But it was all about approving almost complete projects. In 1999, Kaphan decided to part ways from Amazon and Bezos. The two of them are not in touch nowadays. He said that if he had any indication of what the company might become, in terms of success and business practices, he would’ve given a second thought to his decision of joining Amazon. Since 2003, Kaphan is the president of The Kaphan Foundation.
An interesting thing Kaphan said, which fits for most startup employees, think about the success of your startup beyond your expectations.
Kaphan still cherishes the memories from his initial days at Amazon, “the first couple of years at Amazon really were a high point for me,” he said. “Being a part of something from the very beginning that engages people and has an astonishing growth curve–being part of making that actually work–was hugely satisfying, and I still look back on those first couple of years as a really exciting and great time in my life.”
The quoted text is the part of an interview conducted by The Macro. Read the original interview here.
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