There are three types of responses to the article: supporter, critic and neutral.
The supporters say that extraordinary results require extraordinary efforts. Amazon's excellent results are admirable and a product of hard work driven by its culture. As one writer said, you step back from the stock and say, "Boy. Whatever these folks are doing is working." This is a minority view.
The critics condemn the cultural norms described by ex-employees in the NYT article. For example, a blog post by Michael Hyatt outlines how these practices lead to poor team relations, sub-optimal performance and compromised lives. A burnout culture is bad for business and bad for employees. This is the majority view.
The neutral commentators state that people who chose to work for Amazon are fully aware of its challenging culture. They do so because the rewards are worth the 'survival of the fittest' work environment: working on groundbreaking projects, associating with smart people, building skills, increasing personal market value and benefiting from lucrative stock options. Working at Amazon is a 'fair warning' contract between two parties aware of what they are getting and giving.
The position you agree with says more about your work preferences than about Amazon's culture. Since your view is shaped by your past work experiences, it provides a window to how you view employment environments.
If you are behind on your plan or off target, you must do whatever it takes to get back on track. If the cultural behaviours aren't working, taking on new ones is justified as long as they improve performance—the end justifies the means.
If you are a critic, high performance is only half of what work is about, the "what". The "how" of work is equally important. Cultural behaviours are followed because they are based on company values and beliefs, which are mandatory. High performance gained by contrary behaviours is seen as a partial success.
If you are behind on your plan or off target, you must do whatever it takes within the cultural parametres to get back on track. If the cultural behaviours aren't working, better alignment of people to them is required.
If you are neutral, achieving goals is what work is about—the "what" of work, like the supporter, is the focus. Cultural behaviours aren't necessarily followed; they are inputs for consideration that may lead to achieving your goals.
If you are behind on your plan or off target, you must do whatever it takes to achieve your goals. If the cultural behaviours aren't working, taking on new ones is a given.
Company culture is important to most people. Your views on Amazon's culture might help you better understand what type of culture is important for you.