Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will step down later this year, turning the helm over to the company’s top cloud executive Andy Jassy, the company announced Tuesday. Bezos will transition to executive chairman of Amazon’s board.
Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 and has since morphed the one-time online bookstore into a mega retailer with global reach in a slew of different categories from gadgets to grocery to streaming. Amazon surpassed a $1 trillion market cap under Bezos’ leadership in January of last year — it’s now worth more than $1.6 trillion.
Amazon had kept its succession plans quiet, though pundits speculated that Jassy would be his successor.
Jassy joined Amazon in 1997 and has led Amazon’s Web Services cloud team since its inception. AWS continues to drive much of Amazon’s profit.
The news came alongside an earnings report in which Amazon posted its first $100 billion quarter. AWS, Jassy’s current division, reported 28% revenue growth for the fourth quarter. About 52% of Amazon’s operating income was attributed to AWS as of October 2020.
“I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO,” Bezos said in a letter to employees. “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.”
Jassy will need to guide Amazon through antitrust concerns. In October, after a 16-month investigation into competitive practices at big tech companies including Amazon, the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust concluded that Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google enjoy monopoly power. Amazon is also facing antitrust complaints in the EU.
Bezos said he will stay engaged in important Amazon projects but will also have more time to focus on the Bezos Earth Fund, his Blue Origin spaceship company, The Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund.
“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Bezos said in his internal announcement. “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.”