Incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy
  • World’s richest man to step down in Q3 2021
  • CEO role will be handed over to Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services
  • Bezos will focus on other projects like the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin aerospace company, and the Washington Post

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will step down this year, turning the helm over to Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services (AWS) according to an announcement on Tuesday. Bezos will become executive chairman of Amazon’s board.

Bezos transformed Amazon from an online bookseller to a global mega-retailer. The company surpassed the trillion-dollar market cap in January of last year.

In a letter to employees, Bezos said that he would “intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” among which include the sustainability-focused Earth Fund, SpaceX competitor Blue Origin, and the Washington Post newspaper which Bezos took over in 2013.

Meet the New Boss

Jassy is part of Bezos’ elite executive team known as the S-team. He joined Amazon in 1997 and has led the AWS team since its inception.

Amazon had previously kept its succession planning quiet, though front-runners to succeed Bezos were either Jassy or Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business. Last August, the company announced that Wilke will retire in 2021.

Jassy has been instrumental in turning AWS from a side business to a US$50 billion golden goose. About 52 percent of Amazon’s operating income was attributed to AWS as of October 2020.

Industry CEOs and Amazon competitors tweeted congratulations to Bezos and Jassy on the coming transition, with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calling Jassy’s promotion “well-deserved recognition”. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai also offered Bezos “best wishes” on his other projects.

Jeff Bezos

Read the full letter from Bezos to Amazon’s employees:

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.

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.

Jeff

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