Jeff Bezos is stepping down as the CEO of Amazon, 27 years after founding it with his ex-wife and building it into one of the most successful companies of all time that is now worth $1.7trillion.
Bezos, 57, will be replaced by 53-year-old Andy Jassy, the current CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS) Amazon’s cloud service. He has been with the company for 24 years and built AWS into the $40billion, internet-dominating machine it now is.
AWS dominates a third of the internet’s cloud business – by far the largest. It is how governments, companies and individuals keep data and operate online.
Bezos will move to the role of Executive Chair where he says he wants to focus on ‘new products and initiatives’.
It is not clear who will take over Jassy’s role at AWS.
The move will not happen until the third quarter of this year. Bezos announced the change in an email to staff on Tuesday afternoon and as the company reported bumper 2020 Q4 earnings of more than $100billion.
Throughout the whole of 2020, Amazon stocks rose by 85 percent.
He said: ‘Fellow Amazonians,
‘I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO.
‘In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.
‘Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader and he has my full confidence.
‘This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name.
‘The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, “What’s the internet?” Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.
‘Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world,’ he said.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (pictured with his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez) announced on Tuesday he was stepping down as CEO of the company later this year
Bezos will be replaced by Amazon Web Services CEO, Andy Jassy
JEFF BEZOS FULL EMAIL TO STAFF
I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO. In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.
This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name. The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, “What’s the internet?” Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.
Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world.
How did that happen? Invention. Invention is the root of our success. We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.
I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.
As Amazon became large, we decided to use our scale and scope to lead on important social issues. Two high-impact examples: our $15 minimum wage and the Climate Pledge. In both cases, we staked out leadership positions and then asked others to come along with us. In both cases, it’s working. Other large companies are coming our way. I hope you’re proud of that as well.
I find my work meaningful and fun. I get to work with the smartest, most talented, most ingenious teammates. When times have been good, you’ve been humble. When times have been tough, you’ve been strong and supportive, and we’ve made each other laugh. It is a joy to work on this team.
As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.
Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish. We serve individuals and enterprises, and we’ve pioneered two complete industries and a whole new class of devices. We are leaders in areas as varied as machine learning and logistics, and if an Amazonian’s idea requires yet another new institutional skill, we’re flexible enough and patient enough to learn it.
Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.
Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 on a road trip with his ex-wife MacKenzie. It made him the richest man in the world with a net worth of $188billion.
He and Elon Musk trade the title depending on their respective companies’ success in the markets.
Amazon’s share price went up by 1.1 percent after the announcement but were not dramatically changed.
Jassy, a married father-of-two and Harvard graduate, was recently hailed by Amazon employees as a decisive ‘shark’.
‘He has a tremendous amount of trust in his team, but you have to be at the highest levels of diligence and preparation for any meeting with him.
‘He’s a shark who will smell a drop of blood from 100 miles away if you’re not ready,’ one employee told
AWS is one of if not the most promising arm in the company. Since it was formed in 2003, Jassy has helped turn it into a $40bn hosting service for other online businesses.
Analysts were calling Jassy and AWS the future of Amazon before Tuesday’s announcement.
‘AWS and Jassy — they’re the gatekeepers. Jassy’s one of the most powerful leaders not just within the cloud and the tech sector but in the world of business,’ Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said.
Inside the company, he is widely known for ‘the Chop’ – the conference room next to his office and the term for his brainstorming meetings where big ideas and employees get chopped down to size, sources told Insider.
It was his decision to end Amazon’s business with Parler, an unregulated social media site favored by the alt-right that was used, in part, to orchestrate the January 6 Capitol riot.
The ban shone a greater spotlight on the ongoing conversation around the power of big tech.
Joining back in 1997 – the same year the company went public – Jassy quickly rose up the ranks at Amazon.
Before taking the helm of AWS, he served as Bezos’ ‘shadow’ advisor and joined in every one of his meetings.
He earned $20million over the last three years, according to Insider.
Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore in 1994, before the internet was widely used.
He told his wife about the idea while they were driving from New York City to Seattle. They’d been married for a year and had quit their jobs at law firms.
Amazon shares were largely unaffected at the time of the announcement on Tuesday afternoon
Amazon’s share price has grown hugely not only since Bezos and MacKenzie divorced but since the start of the pandemic. The company is worth more than $1.7trillion now
Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 as an online market place for books. He is shown in 1997
A 1999 60 Minutes interview shows Bezos in an office with a spray-painted amazon.com sign
Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos at Allen & Co in 2003
MacKenzie later recalled in an interview: ‘I’m not a businessperson. So to me, what I’m hearing when he tells me that idea is the passion and the excitement.
‘And to me, you know, watching your spouse, somebody that you love, have an adventure — what is better than that, and being part of that?’
She started working as an accountant and was one of the first Amazon employees.
They started by forming contracts with book stores like Barnes & Noble to sell their books online, then added from there.
Now, it is the single largest online retail marketplace in the world and Amazon Web Services accounts for a huge amount of the world’s advertising.
In January 2019, Bezos and MacKenzie announced they were divorcing after it was revealed he had been having a relationship with TV personality Lauren Sanchez.
The divorce split the company stocks, and made MacKenzie the richest woman in the world with a settlement of around $38billion.
That nearly doubled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as Amazon – one of the only retailers that could continue because of its online retail model – thrived.
MacKenzie has put her ex-husband to shame in recent months with her charitable giving.
Bezos didn’t explain the timing for the announcement on Tuesday.
He signed off his email telling staff to ‘keep inventing’ and not be put off if the idea ‘looks crazy’.
Over the last four years, Bezos has, along with the rest of Silicon Valley, faced tougher criticism from governments around the world about monopolizing technology and the way the world depends on it.
He has testified at Congress about Amazon’s practices, along with other CEOs, and insisted that Amazon is not anti-competitive despite its market dominance.