Amazon's Jeff Bezos to step down as CEO

FILE PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.
FILE PHOTO: Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.
Image: Joshua Roberts

Amazon.com Inc on Tuesday said founder Jeff Bezos would step down as CEO and become executive chairman, as the company reported a third consecutive record profit and quarterly sales above $100 billion for the first time.

This summer, Bezos, 57, will hand the keys of the world's largest online retailer to Andy Jassy, head of its cloud computing division. The announcement ends a long-running question about who would succeed the world's second-richest person at the company's helm.

Jassy, 53, joined Amazon in 1997 after Harvard Business School, founding Amazon Web Services (AWS) and growing it to a cloud platform used by millions, the company's website said. He had been a clear contender for the top job since Amazon created two CEO roles reporting to Bezos, the other held by recently retired consumer CEO Jeff Wilke.

Tom Johnson, chief transformation officer at Mindshare Worldwide, said Jassy's promotion underscored the importance of web services to Amazon's future.

"Jassy’s background in steering AWS shows just how top of mind those services are to Amazon's business strategy. It’ll be interesting to see how that affects their strategy and balancing that priority with a growing ad business and the commerce behemoth," he said.

Jassy is known for understanding technical details, and he has regularly taken jabs at legacy player Oracle Corp and cloud rival Microsoft Corp, which AWS continues to exceed in sales.

Under Jassy's leadership, Amazon's cloud business has signed major customers including Verizon, McDonald's and Honeywell. The division's quarterly revenue consistently rose by double digits, helping cement its position as the market leader.

One contract AWS failed to win was the $10 billion "JEDI" contract from the Pentagon, which was awarded to Microsoft.

Jassy has bestowed a rock-star aura to keynotes at AWS's annual Las Vegas conference, speaking before over 60,000 attendees in 2019 after upbeat music preceded his talk.

Bezos, who started the company 27 years ago as an internet bookseller, said in a note to employees posted on Amazon's website, "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." Blue Origin is Bezos' space company, and the Post is his private newspaper holding.

He added, "I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring."

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