That’s the official name, but the program is more commonly known as The Offer. We just found out about this yesterday, so now it’s your turn to be fascinated…

Once per year, Amazon offers an exit bonus to any full-time workers who want to quit. The Offer stays open for a couple weeks (2/24 to 3/16 this year) and the payout is $2K if you’ve worked there for a year, plus $1K for each year after that (up to a max of $5K). The catch: if you take The Offer, you can never work for Amazon again.

At a glance, this seems like a terrible idea for Amazon. Turnover already sucks—it’s an expensive headache, to say the least—and The Offer would seem to multiply turnover’s problems (by multiplying both the costs and the incentives). But look again and you’ll see that Jeff wins either way:

If Workers Take The Offer: Call this the Amazon-workforce equivalent of “spring cleaning.” The workers likeliest to take The Offer tend to be the lower-performing folks anyway; this system allows Amazon to clear them out smoothly and re-recruit in efficient batches.

If Workers Don’t Take The Offer: They’re making a tacit commitment to continue working for Amazon. “Tacit” is the key word here; nobody has to say a word, but everybody has to make a choice. Jeff doesn’t care what you choose; he only cares THAT you choose because, if you choose to stay, your brain will commit and rationalize accordingly.

Look one more time and you’ll see a third way Jeff wins: The Offer acts as a “release valve” for the sorts of employees likeliest to favor unionization. As a rule, unions are a last resort for workers; people tend not to unionize unless they’re “stuck” in a job (no bargaining power or competing opportunities). Amazon workers can’t vote for unionization if they already left willingly!


THERE ARE NO DUMB QUESTIONS, ONLY YAHOO ANSWERS: That’s our favorite sentence from The Verge’s wistful retrospective on Yahoo Answers, which will be shutting down on May 4. Yahoo’s explanation is boilerplate, but believable: that Answers “has become less popular over the years as the needs of our members have changed.”

Yahoo doesn’t mention Reddit, Quora, or any of the competitors that wound up eating YA’s lunch. But we wouldn’t have expected that, and besides, it would have missed the point: the joy of Yahoo Answers was its distinct pre-social-media flavor. Such absurd and amateurish Q&As could only have been produced by the chance connections between strangers.

A few sample questions from Yahoo Answers:

What does it feel like to be 50 years old?
Will my laptop get heavier if I put more files on it?
What is the right age to start teaching my dog about sex?
Why do people with baguettes think they are better than me?
Why is everything at my grandma’s house moist?
What animal is Sonic the Hedgehog?

Grand Prize Winner: How is babby formed?
(This one was so famously good/bad that someone animated it.)

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