Jeff Bezos Amazon

Welcome to “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.

This week we highlight the debate about Amazon’s harsh workplace, the leaking of Ashley Madison user data, LinkedIn messaging app, and a robot walking in the woods.

Amazon vs. NY Times – fight!

The NY Times wrote a scathing article about Amazon’s brutal workplace culture and how the company pushes its employees to the brink in order to get the most out of them. It certainly started a war of words.

In the article, the Times highlighted some examples of Amazon’s unforgiving culture:

  • Employees are encouraged to openly rip apart each other’s ideas in meetings
  • Workers who suffered from health and personal issues were assessed unfairly and pushed out
  • The company facilitated the sending of secret feedback of colleagues’ work to each other’s bosses

The Times depicted Jeff Bezos as the dictator and all Amazon employees as worker bees whose existence is to achieve the CEO’s grand ambitions of selling everything to everyone.

Bezos did not agree, of course. In his rebuttal, he said that he “didn’t recognize the company described in the article,” and that “anyone working in a company…described by the NYT would be crazy to stay.”

The article swiftly prompted current and former employees to communicate their experiences as well. You can read some here, here, and here (login to GitHub may be required).

Amazon would not be able to achieve all that it has, and all that it plans to, without pushing every employee and maximizing his or her output. And whether the details of the article are accurate, in reality, this type of culture probably permeates many of the world’s most successful companies and is likely more common than not.

Hackers leak Ashley Madison user info

Last month, adultery site Ashley Madison was hacked, and the perpetrators threatened to leak information about its 37 million members if the site was not shut down.

They followed through on their threats on Tuesday.

The hackers, who call themselves The Impact Team, leaked 10 gigabytes of user data on a Tor website. The data included email addresses, names, street addresses, phone numbers, and credit card transactions.

Then on Thursday, the hackers released 20 GB more of user data.

Security researchers seem to think the leaked data is legitimate.

A lot of marriages are going down to tubes.

Read more at TechCrunch.

LinkedIn launches standalone messaging app

Messaging apps are hot, and even LinkedIn is trying to get into the game.

The professional social network launched Lookup, a standalone messaging app that lets you find, learn about, and ping your coworkers.

LinkedIn says it conducted research and determined that employees felt they could improve their work if they knew which colleagues had specific skills. They also found out that these employees rarely used outdated intranet directories, and instead turned to LinkedIn for their search.

Thus, the company built an iOS app that allows users to:

  • Search for coworkers by name, title, experience, education, and skills.
  • Access info about colleagues, including phone number and work email address.
  • Contact coworkers, even if you’re not connected on LinkedIn.

The success of messaging apps like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, and WhatsApp can’t be denied, and LinkedIn is trying to replicate this success for the corporate world.

Watch a robot walk through the woods

Atlas, Google’s humanoid robot, can now walk through the woods.

Atlas is being developed by Boston Dynamics, which Google bought in 2013. The robot is being designed to perform rescue tasks that may be too dangerous for human beings to execute.

While the robot’s movements are shaky and it still needs a tether for power, the ability to navigate uneven ground and stay upright and balanced is pretty amazing.

The future is near, and it’s pretty crazy.

What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.

Like this post? Then please share it below and follow us on Twitter – @thorntech and @mikewchan – for future updates.

Photo courtesy of Steve Jurvetson on Flickr.