AWS CEO Adam Selipsky: Gartner Magic Quadrant Sales Pressure Criticism ‘Is Absolutely Not Accurate’

‘You can’t be customer-obsessed if you are only obsessed with selling according to your own calendar,’ Selipsky said in an interview with CRN.


Amazon Web Services CEO Adam Selipsky doesn’t mince words when it comes to allegations of AWS sales pressure raised in a Magic Quadrant report by research firm Gartner earlier this year.

“With all due respect, I think that is absolutely not accurate,” Selipsky told CRN when asked about the report in an October interview at AWS headquarters in Seattle.

In its Magic Quadrant for Cloud Infrastructure and Platform Services released in July, Gartner called out the cloud provider’s alleged sales tactics in a “cautions” section about AWS, which was the clear leader in the report.

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“Dozens of Gartner clients across multiple geographies have reported unexpected pressure from AWS sales, which has sharply accelerated over the past year, to increase annual spend commitments by 20 percent to renew existing contracts,” the Gartner report stated. “Since these customers typically have significant dependence on the platform, they may feel as if they have limited recourse; however, the pressure to increase spend is not AWS’ policy and will be eliminated if the customer escalates.”

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Gartner declined to comment beyond the report.

AWS does not run its business based on pressuring customers at the end of quarters or at the end of its fiscal year, Selipsky said.

“You can’t be customer-obsessed if you are only obsessed with selling according to your own calendar,” he said. “To be honest with you, I had absolutely no idea last week that it was Sept. 30, the end of a quarter. There were no cues around me, there was nothing going on. There were not people rushing into my office. I did not have finance teams banging down my door. And that’s because we’re just going about our business, and we’re not trying to jam anything down customers throats. When you do that, customers really notice it, you lose trust, and the relationships suffer.”

In a company the size of AWS, Selipsky said, “I could probably find you one or more of anything—be it wonderful, be it awful or be it indifferent. The ability to find a very small number of anecdotes about anything, whether it’s positive or negative, in a business that size is not particularly helpful.”

Selipsky said it’s more helpful to look at the overall patterns when it comes to how AWS deals with customers.

“It is absolutely clear, if you go out and talk to AWS customers, that they tell us all the time that we behave very differently than their old-guard technology vendors, and that it is a completely different dynamic,” Selipsky said. “Literally this morning, I was with the CEO of a Global 1000 company, and he was telling me that the best part about what they’re doing with us is the relationship that they have with all the field resources with whom they work—that’s the salespeople, the solutions architects, the support staff and the partner alliance managers that help them work with partners. I hear that all the time, and it’s honestly the highest compliment that anyone can pay us.”

First and foremost, AWS is trying to build long-term, trusting relationships with its customers and ecosystem partners, according to Selipsky.

“I believe that for all of us—partners and AWS alike—that will actually create the best and the biggest business over time if we behave that way,” he said.