OAKLAND, Calif. — When Jeff Barr, a distinguished govt at Amazon’s cloud computing division and a prodigious company blogger, celebrated his sixtieth birthday final 12 months, Corey Quinn had a shock for him: a music video that mocked Amazon’s enterprise.
“Jeff, are you able to write me a launch weblog submit,” sang a cartoon Amazon supervisor to the tune of Billy Joel’s “Piano Man.” “What we’ve constructed is a thriller to me. Nevertheless it’s huge and bespoke and its console’s a joke. But when it ships, I would make V.P.”
After the video’s launch, Mr. Quinn, who consults for Amazon prospects to assist them scale back their cloud computing payments, reveled in tweaking the tech behemoth.
“The perfect days begin with me simply figuring out that my deliberate stunts will end in at the least eight inner @awscloud conferences and a disaster response plan,” he wrote on Twitter. “In the present day is simply such a day.”
The world of cloud computing isn’t recognized for humor or outsize personalities. Mr. Quinn, 38, is an exception: a brash and outspoken one who is an element tech analyst, half web troll and half watchdog. With an irreverent type that mixes technical acumen and a pointy wit, he publishes a weekly publication with 21,000 subscribers, data 4 podcasts every week and makes YouTube movies filled with geeky jokes for cloud computing insiders. He additionally maintains an especially lively Twitter feed.
Formally, Mr. Quinn calls himself a cloud economist, a designation he made up when he began consulting in 2016. He thought it was much less miserable than cloud accountant.
He hardly ever passes on a possibility to scrutinize, analyze, clarify, mock and defend Amazon’s cloud unit — generally abruptly. He works with giant Amazon shoppers reminiscent of The Washington Submit, Ticketmaster and Epic Video games, which search his recommendation on contract negotiations or the very best methods to scale back cloud computing prices.
Based mostly in San Francisco, his consulting agency, the Duckbill Group, employs 11 folks and works solely with Amazon Internet Providers prospects — making his feedback carry much more weight at Amazon. It additionally offers him extra leeway to be the corporate’s pest in chief.
“It’s a frenemy relationship. When he speaks, folks there pay attention,” stated Ana Visneski, a former Amazon worker who usually handled Mr. Quinn when she managed the method for releasing new merchandise. “Though some folks didn’t take care of the snark.”
Amazon Internet Providers, higher often known as AWS, is Amazon’s most worthwhile enterprise, nevertheless it doesn’t generate the identical consideration as the corporate’s retail enterprise, though its impression could also be larger. The computer systems in Amazon’s knowledge facilities energy giant swaths of the web, together with Netflix and Disney+, whereas companies giant and small rely upon AWS infrastructure to remain digitally linked.
“Everybody needs to speak in regards to the different points of the enterprise which are simpler to wrap their heads round,” Mr. Quinn stated, “but when we check out the following 10 years of Amazon, it’s fairly clear that AWS goes to be the defining a part of that narrative.”
Development of Amazon’s cloud enterprise has created alternatives for Mr. Quinn to construct a faithful following. On the AWS convention in 2019 in Las Vegas, a couple of dozen attendees approached him for selfies.
Amazon declined to remark for this text, and it didn’t make Mr. Barr out there for remark. In response to an outline of Mr. Quinn as a humorous individual in an business devoid of humor, an Amazon spokesman replied with a hyperlink to a lighthearted video for an AWS product launch and a smiley emoji.
Mr. Quinn took a roundabout path to changing into a cloud computing influencer. In 2003, he dropped out of the College of Maine, the place he studied pc science. He hopped from one dead-end job to a different earlier than working at know-how consulting companies and start-ups. In 2015, he was working at a monetary know-how start-up when the funding agency BlackRock acquired it. He left that job a 12 months later to begin his personal consulting firm.
“I’m completely horrible as an worker,” he stated. “I’ve sharp elbows. I get bored simply and drift into different folks’s lanes.”
After years of making an attempt to make sense of his firm’s AWS invoice, a complicated hodgepodge of expenses for providers and knowledge storage and switch that may lengthen to greater than 100 pages for heavy customers, he determined that different corporations may use his experience.
“I can describe what I do in six phrases: I repair the horrifying AWS invoice,” he stated.
He was additionally having a bet that extra corporations would begin utilizing AWS and use it extra often. He was proper. As of late, the cloud computing invoice ranks because the third-largest expense for a lot of web software program companies, trailing solely payroll and workplace area.
To advertise his consulting agency, later rebranded the Duckbill Group, with an offended platypus as a mascot, Mr. Quinn began his publication, “Final Week in AWS,” in 2017.
In 2018, he virtually accepted a job on the AWS billing crew, however the firm demanded he signal a broad noncompete clause stopping him from leaving to work for any Amazon competitor. In a weblog submit accompanied by a photograph of a person with each center fingers prolonged, Mr. Quinn referred to as such clauses “abusive” and stated assurances that the corporate wouldn’t implement them have been usually unfaithful.
The difficulty got here up once more final 12 months when Amazon sued Brian Corridor, a former AWS vp of selling, claiming he violated the noncompete clause when he joined Google in an analogous position.
“What’s the key sauce he’s going to take with him? Launch a bunch of issues with horrible names then market them extremely poorly to infrastructure engineers?” Mr. Quinn wrote on the time. Amazon agreed to settle the lawsuit a month later.
Mr. Corridor stated Mr. Quinn was a “very useful advocate” whose opinion mattered at Amazon.
“Somebody like Corey helped current AWS to prospects, generally in methods the corporate preferred and generally in methods the corporate didn’t like. That made him somebody that needed to be listened to,” Mr. Corridor stated.
Like many business analysts, Mr. Quinn can be paid by the businesses he criticizes. AWS has sponsored his publication and has paid him for recommendation, however Mr. Quinn stated Amazon had by no means tried to rein in what he stated. Google stated it had paid him for perception, too.
A frequent goal of Mr. Quinn’s jabs are uninspired AWS product names. After Amazon launched a flurry of latest providers throughout a meticulously deliberate keynote presentation at a builders convention in December, Mr. Quinn supplied his unfiltered take.
“Take a look at these terrible service names. Gaze upon their awfulness,” he stated. He referred to as up a slide with the worst offenders: Lookout for Gear; Trainium; Glue Elastic Views; SageMaker Knowledge Wrangler; and Amazon Outposts, the Smaller Ones.
Mr. Quinn not too long ago branched out with one other AWS parody music video. As an alternative of a birthday message for an govt, he roasted Amazon’s seemingly infinite rollout of extra computing capability.
“Don’t cease releasing,” a sunglass-wearing platypus sings to the tune of Journey’s “Don’t Cease Believin’.” “Knowledge facilities are rising, hiding someplace in your city. Don’t cease releasing.”
Mr. Quinn stated that corporations with trillion-dollar market valuations have been truthful recreation for his needling, however that he prevented jokes on the expense of particular person staff or executives. When he made the parody video of Mr. Barr, he checked with an individual near the Amazon govt to ensure he didn’t cross any strains.
Mr. Quinn stated he made an exception for Larry Ellison, a co-founder of Oracle, as a result of “nobody likes him.”
An Oracle spokeswoman didn’t reply to an e mail in search of touch upon Mr. Ellison’s recognition.