How smart are Amazonians in comparison to engineers from Fb, Google, Microsoft and Apple?

Amazon r6
Aug 20, 2017 70 Comments

I had internships in Google and Facebook and now I work for Amazon a second year. While I'm proud that the company had achieved as a whole I feel that our top SDE2/3 across the company are on the level with an average Google / Facebook engineer at the best. It was a normal that the person who works near you is winner of ACM/TopCoder/etc, that ML guy is on the top of Kaggle, that unsocial wierdo in the corner is Chess grandmaster and the girl from IT desk can assemble Rubik's cube under 15 seconds. In Amazon almost all people I communicate with - the ordinary Joe. I'm not trying to offend my colleagues or myself by any means - we're all working very hard, learning, building products for millions of people. I often feel myself like a minion from Despicable me. But I clearly can see that amazians don't program after the work, not that curious, not obsessed with anything, and generally regular people (IQ) unlike majority of Facebookers and Googlers I worked with.

I would like hear from other people who worked in 2+ companies from big 5 - how do you compare engineers from that companies. Thanks!

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TOP 70 Comments
  • Google / Eng ungoogley
    Very few people at Google, or elsewhere I'd imagine, and groundbreakingly intelligent. Most are just average. Quite a few are below average
    Aug 20, 2017 11
    • Facebook / Eng gltrngstn
      I'm extremely certain you don't actually understand what average is.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      I think he does. But as a geeky programmer, his answer is very precise and not very useful. Take into account that the most googles are just average across the Google. That's true, as true that there are few below the average. However my hypothesis that google average > amazon average
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Google kOIM87
      The difference between "groundbreakingly intelligent" and average is laughably wide. Your post make zero sense.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Google / Eng ungoogley
      I'll clarify. The people I run into at work are at best unimpressive, and at worst, fucking retarded. My opinion is not skewed because I think I'm hot shit, no, on the contrary: I don't think I'm great at what I do. My statement stands. Very few people are doing anything out of the ordinary. Some are network engineers and don't know how many bits in an ip address. Others are somewhat decent in one discipline but lacking outside of it. I'm asked things, daily, that people should know on their first day of a cs101 class.

      When it comes to general intelligence, and self-awareness, the people I encounter are, again, disappointing. They don't know not to stand in front of the fucking fridge when carrying on a conversation, they don't know how to not block walkways, nor to not lick their fingers and then handle shared eating utensils, nor do they know what an indoor voice is, or that you let people exit an elevator before you enter.

      People at Google are just as disappointing and fucking dumb as they are elsewhere but generally twice as entitled. The "we hire the best" thing is a glass of kool-aid everyone drinks to pat themselves on the back for being "awesome" while actually being mediocre. The interview process is deeply flawed and far from scientific, and it certainly doesn't look for intelligence.

      That said, there are a few people making cool shit, that can learn quick and rapidly build upon their existing knowledge. These people are the exception, not the rule.
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      wow, sounds like you're really pissed off by people. Thanks for your detailed answer!
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Google xvC27s
      Why are you still working there then?
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Google / Eng ungoogley
      Because I don't get paid in average people, I get paid in dollars.
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng 1q2w3r
      Same dumb entitlement and wow does your mom still do your laundry???? questions from me at Amazon too.
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Facebook / Eng gltrngstn
      trollpost by autistic nutjob

      bail now
      Aug 22, 2017
    • Facebook / Design
      uHyX11

      Facebook Design

      PRE
      startups
      uHyX11more
      Lol @ungoogley I was having a shit day and your anger made me feel great. Thank you!
      Aug 25, 2017
  • Amazon Yzat36
    Winning at ACM & TopCoder doesn't necessarily translate into being a good exhaustive software developer.
    Aug 20, 2017 1
    • Microsoft qaz987
      True that! Then again, only those with genuine interest and motivation will pursue such endeavors so more likely they are genuinely good at it.
      Aug 20, 2017
  • Amazon OhMeOhMy
    A lot of this is team dependent. My team (it is an ML team, so a mix of SDEs and scientists) has rockstar engineers, a chess grandmaster, successful startup founders, AI PhDs, top tier MBAs, and hobbyist quants trading currencies. However, those of us over 32-35 years in age also have family obligations and thus no longer spend all our free time working on Open Source projects and other personal coding adventures. I think if you look at the highly desireable and selective teams at Google and Amazon you will see similar things. If you find yourself surrounded by unimpressive people at Amazon, look at other teams in areas where there is a lot of innovation going on (robotics, ML, drones, NLP, computer vision, and many more). Hit up jobfinder, demonstrate that you have the initiative to learn a real research area, and there will be tons of opportunity.
    Aug 20, 2017 8
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      thanks a lot for the answer! I'm actually doing it right now, but unfortunately I'm not in Seattle =(
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Microsoft IfrF57
      Do you work in the AWS ML team?
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon / Other
      Rufus

      Amazon Other

      PRE
      Amazon
      Rufus more
      What do MBAs do in a ML team? Finance and product?
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon boobie
      Amazon has no chess grand masters liar
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      🐴Mira🦄

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Pragmatic hater! Builds shit like there's no tomorrow.
      🐴Mira🦄more
      Grand as he is thinking big! Newb!
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Microsoft IfrF57
      I heard Magnus Carlsen was rejected after his bar raiser interview.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon OhMeOhMy
      Technically, he is still an IM but his rating is just under 2500 so within a hairs breadth of it. As for what MBAs do, product and management still exist, right?
      Aug 20, 2017
  • Amazon awssdm
    I worked at Microsoft. Same deal -- there is a distribution with only a few exceptional people. I suspect it's the same everywhere. Besides, I'd rather work with well adjusted engineers that can get stuff done than with idiot savants that can only blast through competition problems
    Aug 20, 2017 1
    • Amazon / Eng
      tehDude

      Amazon Eng

      PRE
      Expeditors
      tehDudemore
      Well said... I agree
      Aug 20, 2017
  • Intuit first6mos
    Don't worry, later on in your career you will find out some of the following:

    1) Not all smart people want to work hard.
    2) Smart people who want to work hard can see more work to do than their manager. They're too busy to talk to someone they haven't already heard of.
    3) People who work hard consistently will outperform the #1 group but not be able to quote white papers or other trivia back at you.
    4) Some people will do crap work to be around their role models or gain experience
    5) Some people lead a less privileged life and didn't get to finish college
    6) Some people haven't had a good nights sleep in years, for good and bad reasons.

    7) Currently, almost every American has to work to eat.
    Aug 20, 2017 5
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      thanks for the answer, but I think it has little relation to my question.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Intuit first6mos
      Smart people don't leave "big 5" companies except for a startup. Golden handcuffs are real -- most people won't have been at multiple big 5 for any good reasons.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      how that is related to my question? Please read it again. Thank you.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Intuit first6mos
      I had to edit, but let me try rephrasing again.

      People who have been at 2+ big 5 companies are unlikely to have been on a good team AND part of the Blind userbase.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng eth
      first6mos you can't back up that statement with anything other than personal anecdotal experience
      Aug 22, 2017
  • Microsoft IfrF57
    Interviews are a crapshoot. I know a guy who failed Amazon, Google but got into msft and FB. So it's across the board. Don't let your company define who you are. Focus on skills instead and learning/growth
    Aug 20, 2017 2
    • Google FzSg08
      I failed early at MSFT (didn't make it past the phone screen), and didn't get offers after on-sites from any of FB, TWTR, Uber, Netflix or LinkedIn. Only offers I've ever gotten in my life were from IBM and Google.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Google FzSg08
      Oh, and Bloomberg.
      Aug 20, 2017
  • Amazon DoNeedful
    Amazon leadership princples make sure that we hire a wholistic personality. There is a unique strength in everyone I have worked with at Amazon.
    Aug 20, 2017 5
    • Amazon dcobobo
      Oh yea!

      Kool aid!
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      what's the thing with Kooliad? I read it everywhere - never actually understood.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon port98
      you could have just Googled for it. first result is https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drinking_the_Kool-Aid?wprov=sfla1
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      no, it's not the first result - you're lier!
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon port98
      I kinda assumed you weren't a complete moron. apologies. I was wrong.
      Aug 21, 2017
  • Amazon Cao
    Any new grads who got offer from Google or Facebook will ditch Amazon.
    Aug 20, 2017 3
    • BlackBerry TrlrPkBoys
      They are better companies to work at as they don't use stack ranking. Also they are not stingy like Amazon
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      new grads maybe, but I was in a clear mind when I've chosen Amazon (while had Google offer) because Amazon offered more ambitious project to work. However now I'm not sure anymore that it was right decision.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon / Eng
      🐴Mira🦄

      Amazon Eng

      BIO
      Pragmatic hater! Builds shit like there's no tomorrow.
      🐴Mira🦄more
      Would not fret too much. It's important you make the right decision with the data you have. Very few decisions are irreversible (ie you can go work at google if you want)
      Aug 20, 2017
  • Amazon / Eng nochill
    I agree it is team dependent.

    As I've got older I started downplaying the intellectual parts of my resume and personal hobbies. I continue to publish research and contribute to literature but sharing that with coworkers seems pompous. It has no bearing on the work we do together. It also comes off as autistic and hurts socializing. I want to drink beer and make jokes with my coworkers, not discuss unrelated math.
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • Microsoft ARJw68
    Some really really smart people at Microsoft and some head scratching "how did you get hired?" types.

    I'd imagine it's the same at all the companies.
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • Amazon YevgenyTsi
    Amazon's interview process doesn't place a whole lot of importance on smartness alone. most importantly you don't need one single genius to develop a product, you need a good team. That being said I have met some extremely smart folks at Amazon. Also for MBAs in particular, Amazon provides far more interesting roles and problems to solve than Google or Facebook
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • Google mumra
    I worked at Amazon for years. Now at Google. Google's bar is much higher (I used to be a BR at Amazon). I'm in a technical role L7 at Amazon (ppal) and 6 at Google.
    Aug 20, 2017 3
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      Thanks a lot for answer! ppal means people tech org? What organization in Amazon has the most talanted engineers in your opinion?
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Google mumra
      No. Principal.
      Aug 20, 2017
    • Amazon OhMeOhMy
      So levels are somewhat different its true. But I think the reason the bar feels different is that Amazon is flooded with SDE1s and SDE2s and has very few Sr. SDEs (5-10%) and 1-2% PEs with a tiny smattering of Sr. Principals and 10 DEs. Whereas at Google, 10% of engineers are at Staff (T6, roughly equivalent to an Amazon L7 PE) or higher level so there's a much deeper book of top tier senior level talent.
      Aug 21, 2017
  • Amazon Ramanujan
    +1 Amazon is MBA's paradise, right balance of tech and business
    Aug 20, 2017 2
    • Facebook keyboard8
      um, amzn engineers, if you’re reading this, run. run now. (pssst, we’re hiring and no one flaunts an mba here)
      Aug 25, 2017
    • New mKqs66
      MBAs are pats on the back for those who are incompetent.
      Nov 1, 2017
  • Facebook IBoW18
    Amazon is also an execution focused business, it needs to execute well, having the best eng is also a bit less important
    Aug 21, 2017 2
    • Amazon / Eng nochill
      Not true. You can't hack together AWS.
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Amazon dntlkmeup
      Tell that to the QuickSight team
      Jan 14
  • Amazon n01
    I've worked at Microsoft, Microsoft Research, and some startups. Had offers from most top companies. The only company I ever wanted to work for, Apple, never wanted to interview me (not even a phone screen!). Go figure....

    I'm quite happy now at Amazon. My team is great. Compared to places like the typical team at Microsoft: they are likely at same IQ, but work harder and are paid less. Yet, they look happier. Compared to Microsoft Research: clearly less intellectual horsepower, but greater results. Have seen already 2 or 3 things that should have been patented, but the team is unaware of that. And again: they are far happier than top researchers I know! (Talking about ACM level prize winners).
    Aug 20, 2017 3
    • Amazon r6
      OP
      yes, it's very important info. Based on the replies ppl provided here I assume that just my particular team is not comfortable to work with. So I'm thinking about changing team now.
      Aug 21, 2017
    • Amazon n01
      STeam: Clark. Then Mason. You get it, or you don't...
      Aug 21, 2017
  • Amazon 082717ks
    I work at Amazon. Sadly I think this is somewhat true. I'm not impressed at all with the intellects of the majority of the SDE 1 I met. Doing team matching at Google though, so my answer is obviously bias.
    Aug 23, 2017 1
    • SEVENROOMS / Eng
      aDBs62

      SEVENROOMS Eng

      PRE
      Amazon
      aDBs62more
      The bar has slipped substantially in the late few years. When I started, I was the only University of Middle of Nowhere. Everyone else was CMU, UIUC, Harvey Mudd, Harvard.
      Sep 7, 2017
  • New dtbG40
    Well, I have friends at Google that got there guessing riddles and solving high school level IOI algorithm problems, that at the same were lucky enough to had an insider to hook them up with the people who did the interview, there are very smart people in those "top" companies , but I don't think they are the elite compared with the others
    Aug 30, 2017 0
  • Amazon biggles
    Generally, Amazon SDE1s are worse than the entry level at the rest of the big names. Amazon goes for burn-and-churn.

    Above that level is a lot closer, with Amazon folks tending to wear more hats, but excelling at none.
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • Microsoft qaz987
    Just in general, based on what I have seen over the last many years, folks in the Bay Area, especially coming from the top universities, are more likely to be enterprising and innovative. This doesn't mean others are not, it's just less likely and fewer in terms of percentage. Since more Bay Area educated folks tend to stick around in the Bay Area, it isn't surprising that google/Facebook has a higher percentage of such folks. Also, a lot of these folks are genuinely into coding, computer science, data, AI as opposed to pursuing those areas because they are trending topics today. That shows.
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • Amazon / Eng
    IIIIiIe

    Amazon Eng

    BIO
    Ask and I might answer ;)
    IIIIiIemore
    Why does it matter? It is not a "smartness" competition. Statistically it will be all the same no matter where you go.
    Aug 20, 2017 1
    • Amazon / Eng CygnusX1
      Passion and intent are a form of signalling. I would be very interested in hearing from a chess champion about how they solve other kinds of problems. (diversity wink wink :P)
      Aug 20, 2017
  • Amazon mmmonday
    smart means nothing
    Aug 20, 2017 0
  • Amazon / Eng
    IIIIiIe

    Amazon Eng

    BIO
    Ask and I might answer ;)
    IIIIiIemore
    That doesn't mean people is more or less smart here or there... It talks about capacity...
    Aug 20, 2017 0

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