50 employees left Zappos before an important project was finished

Tony hsieh zapposEthan Miller/GettyZappos CEO Tony Hsieh

In April 2015, Amazon subsidiary Zappos made a now-infamous buyout package offer to any employee who didn’t want to join CEO Tony Hsieh in his “holacracy” self-management experiment.

But the relatively small group of engineers and technical types helping the company move to Amazon’s cloud computing infrastructure in the so-called “Super Cloud” project, literally years in the making, got until the end of the year to decide.

17 Super Cloud managers took the original offer, according to Quartz.

By the time the deadline struck on December 31st, 2015, 50 engineers out of 130 or so had taken the money and ran — with Super Cloud still incomplete, per an email from Zappos COO Arun Rajan sent to employees and posted online.

The Super Cloud project, originally intended to be done and working by the end of 2015, will now go live this quarter.

The idea behind Super Cloud is simple: By moving all of Zappos’ server infrastructure to the Amazon Web Services cloud, it would free up the company’s engineering staff to focus more on doing things that actually deliver shareholder value, beyond merely setting up more servers and fixing outages.

It’s actually a similar reason that many big businesses come to Amazon Web Services, seeking to save on both cost and complexity by letting the retail giant handle the headaches that comes with operating huge data center.

Andy jassy awsMatt WeinbergerAmazon Web Services boss Andy Jassy at AWS Summit San Francisco 2015

Also like a lot of big businesses moving to the Amazon Web Services cloud, Zappos has apparently had a lot of trouble with the move. It probably doesn’t help that Zappos, founded in 1999, is likely to have a bunch of old-school systems lying around.

That said, Zappos COO Arun Rajan told Quartz that those who took the Super Cloud extended buyout offer were mostly non-technical managers who would probably have been laid off if they hadn’t taken the offer, anyway.

We’ve reached out to Zappos for comment and will update if we hear back.

If you know more about Zappos and its Super Cloud project, email the author here.

Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through hispersonal investment company Bezos Expeditions.

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