Amazon started Lab126, the secretive hardware skunkworks that launched the Kindle, back in 2004.
From the very beginning, a man named Gregg Zehr, former VP of hardware engineering at Palm Computing, took the reigns.
In 10 years, Zehr managed to build up Lab126 from a tiny operation to a busy, bustling operation that just this year alone released a new smartphone, two TV streaming devices, the Siri-like speaker Amazon Echo, and upgrades to its lines of tablets and Kindles.
So, what did Zehr receive for giving 10 years of his life to building one of Amazon’s biggest products?
A new employee badge “with a celebratory red striped border around his picture,” according to The Verge.
Amazon, known for being frugal, is not the kind of company that throws parties, it seems. We’ve heard from a source in the past that all employees get different coloured badges depending on how long they have worked for the company. Overall, Amazon employees forgo a lot of perks, like the free food, massages, or high-tech sporting facilities of their Silicon Valley peers.
The rationale here, according to CEO Jeff Bezos, is that what the company lacks in swag, it makes up for in having a culture where employees are encouraged to take bold bets.
That’s what drew Zehr to the company in the first place.
“What we had to do on the first reader, since no one had done it before, was to be as creative as possible,” he told The Verge.
Bezos has been said to be particularly focused and involved in the company’s hardware offerings recently. Morgan Stanley analysts estimate that Amazon’s Kindles will generate more than $US5 billion in revenue this year.
Read the rest of The Verge’s piece about the evolution of the Kindle here.
Disclosure: Jeff Bezos is an investor in Business Insider through his personal investment company Bezos Expeditions.