Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down from his role as chief executive later this year and transition to the role of executive chair, the company said Tuesday. He will be replaced by Andy Jassy.
Bezos has been Amazon’s CEO since its founding in 1995. He oversaw its growth from an online bookseller into a $1.7 trillion global retail and logistics behemoth, which has also made Bezos into one of the world’s richest people.
Jassy has worked for Amazon since 1997 and currently serves as CEO of the company’s cloud business, Amazon Web Services, its biggest profit driver.
“This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name,” Bezos wrote letter to employees Tuesday. “The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, ‘What’s the internet?’ … 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.”
Bezos said in his Tuesday letter that he is excited for the transition, which will free up more time for him to work on outside projects. As executive chair of Amazon, he will focus on “new products and early initiatives,” he said. “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Bezos wrote. “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.”
He added that Jassy “will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.” Jassy is an obvious choice for the top job, especially after Jeff Wilke, the head of the company’s worldwide consumer division and another veteran Amazon leader, announced his retirement in August. Jassy is a longtime member of Amazon’s elite leadership group, the “S-team,” and has overseen the growth of AWS into a cash cow and the world’s biggest cloud computing provider.
The cloud computing market is expected to expand even further in coming years as the pandemic accelerates companies’ adoption of cloud, as they aim to be more effective in an era of digital-first interactions.”Andy Jassy stepping into the CEO role at Amazon is a natural fit,” Tim Hubbard, assistant professor at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business said in an emailed comment. “Amazon Web Services is a powerhouse within the company, driving a lot of profitability. The transition may indicate that for the core of the company, it’s going to continue down the path it’s going.”