Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will be stepping down from his position as chief executive later this year, according to an announcement on Tuesday.

Bezos will hand over his position as chief executive to Andy Jassy, Amazon’s top cloud executive, and will transition into the executive chairman of the company’s board. In August 2020, Bezos announced that Jeff Wike, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, will retire this year. While Jassy will become the new CEO in the third quarter of the year.

The 57-year-old Bezos founded Amazon in 1994. What started as a small retail store has since grown into the biggest online retail store in the world, making Bezos the richest person in the world. The e-commerce giant passed a $1 trillion market cap in January 2020. It is currently worth more than $1.5 trillion.

Jassy has been with Amazon since 1997 and has been a strong force behind Amazon’s Web Services cloud since it started. AWS drives much of the company’s profit.

In the just-reported earnings results of Amazon’s first $100 billion quarter, AWS under the leadership of Jassy generated 28% revenue growth for the Q4. About 52% of the company’s operating income was attributed to AWS.”

“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 wrote in a letter to employees. “In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and likely 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 has my full confidence.”

The news came alongside Amazon’s earnings report for the quarter. The company’s shares were up 1% in extended trading on Tuesday. Amazon’s stock has gained 4% so far in 2021, and up nearly 70% in the last 12 months.

In a media call about the executive change, Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky said the decision on the executive change was made together with the company’s board of directors. He added that Bezos will remain actively engaged in the company.

Bezos also said he will remain engaged in the company but will have more time to focus on other projects like this Bezos Earth Fund, his Blue Origin spaceship company, the Amazon Day 1 Fund, and The Washington Post.

“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Bezos said. “Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being 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.”

Jassy is expected to guide the company through antitrust concerns as soon as he takeover. In October 2016, the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust alleged that big tech companies including Amazon were enjoying monopoly of power in the marketplace.

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