An Amazon distribution center in Las Vegas. Photo: David Becker/AFP via Getty Images

Tim Bray, vice president and distinguished engineer at Amazon Web Services, announced Monday in a blog post that he resigned after the company fired workers who raised concerns about warehouse employees frightened of the coronavirus.

Why it matters: Bray said he strongly disagreed with the firings of a number of employees, including Emily Cunningham and Maren Costa, who link their terminations to their public criticism of Amazon’s treatment of employees during the coronavirus pandemic, according to TechCrunch.

Context: Amazon denied the connection, saying it terminated the employees for violating internal policies.

  • Bray worked for Amazon for five years and called the position “the best job I’ve ever had."

What he's saying: "[A]t the end of the day, the big problem isn’t the specifics of Covid-19 response," Bray wrote. "It’s that Amazon treats the humans in the warehouses as fungible units of pick-and-pack potential. Only that’s not just Amazon, it’s how 21st-century capitalism is done."

  • "Amazon is exceptionally well-managed and has demonstrated great skill at spotting opportunities and building repeatable processes for exploiting them. It has a corresponding lack of vision about the human costs of the relentless growth and accumulation of wealth and power."
  • Bray wrote that staying in his position after the firings "would have meant, in effect, signing off on actions I despised. So I resigned."

Thought Bubble, from Axios' Scott Rosenberg: Bray is an engineering expert whose role at Amazon Web Services put him at a far end of the giant’s operations from its retail warehouses.

  • His resignation represents a high-profile act of dissent at the tech giant, but engineers have a lot more job mobility than many other workers.

Go deeper: Amazon's big coronavirus spending gets a cold market response

Go deeper

Jul 29, 2020 - Technology

Bezos: No guarantee Amazon didn't exploit third-party seller data

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said Wednesday he can't guarantee employees have never used sales data from individual third-party sellers to develop the company's own products, despite a policy against that practice and past denials that Amazon engages in it.

Why it matters: Lawmakers and Amazon competitors and sellers have repeatedly hammered the e-commerce giant over accusations that Amazon accesses data on third-party sellers to boost its own house-label products. Bezos is admitting he can't rule out that this has happened.

Updated Jul 29, 2020 - Technology

Tech's major powers face heat during House antitrust hearing

Screenshot: CSPAN

Wednesday's House antitrust hearing with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple went down some politically fraught rabbit holes, but also saw tech's most powerful figures face sharper questions than they've seen before from Washington.

What's happening: Republicans slammed the companies for alleged anti-conservative bias, but Democrats largely narrowed their focus to possible competitive abuses, putting the CEOs on their back feet and producing some surprising admissions.

Jul 30, 2020 - Technology

House throws kitchen sink at tech CEOs

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

House lawmakers aired an enormous array of grievances with the CEOs of Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple Wednesday, throwing everything in their arsenal at four of the most powerful men in the world for six hours.

Quick take: The antitrust hearing didn't nail a case that these companies are harmful monopolies. But the representatives succeeded in wringing some surprising admissions from the executives about how they wield their market power, providing ammunition for regulators now conducting investigations — and possibly a spur for Congress to strengthen antitrust law for the digital era.