Amazon's second-largest employee shareholder explains why he's working for the Italian government for free

Diego Piacentini of the leading online retailer Amazon.com speaks at a news conference in Paris August 29 , 2000. Amazon's Senior Vice President Diego PiacentiniThomson Reuters

Diego Piacentini is the SVP of Amazon's international consumer business and the second-largest employee shareholder after founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.

But after spending 16 years at Amazon, Piacentini announced in February that he'd be taking a two-year leave to work for the Italian government — for free.

At the time, he said he wanted to "give back" to the country he was born and raised in by bringing back some of the lessons he's learned at Amazon. He is now doing pro bono work, leading the digital-technology office of the Italian prime minister.

In a Medium post published Friday, Piacentini shared more details around his decision to leave Amazon and work for the Italian government. He also took the opportunity to make an open recruiting pitch for potential employees who might be interested in joining his team in the future.

Missionaries wanted

"We need real 'missionaries,' who will be presented with the opportunity to contribute to the mission of ferrying Italy into the future," Piacentini wrote in the blog post.

In the post, he uses a lot of tech jargon, like "mobile-first," "big data," and "agile development," but basically it sounds like he wants Italian people spread across the world to come work for him at a discount — under the goal of upgrading the country's overall tech infrastructure.

Piacentini's efforts seem well-timed. As Quartz's Annalisa Merelli points out, Italy has one of the lowest internet penetration rates in Europe and ranks last for internet use in the whole region. Perhaps it explains why Amazon has invested roughly 450 million euros (~$500 million USD) in Italy since 2010.

Piacentini says his team is seeking bilingual talent (Italian and English) with technical expertise in computer science, math and statistics, and product design. Anyone applying for the position must be able to commit a full year of employment, and expect a salary in the range of 70,000 euros to 120,000 euros, slightly below the average most tech employees are able to draw in Silicon Valley. Most positions will be located in Rome.

"For those who are not afraid of such obstacles, who feel a deep connection with these objectives and with these principles, thrive in ambiguous situations, have a knack for simplification, our team is the right place," Piacentini wrote.

Learn more about Piacentini's team here>>

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