USA TODAY International Edition
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to step down this summer
The surprise move announced Tuesday puts Andy Jassy at the helm of the company, while Bezos transitions to executive chair.
Amazon announced Tuesday that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO this summer and hand off the retail juggernaut to Andy Jassy, who runs the cloud computing business.
Bezos, one of the world’s most powerful business figures and also one of its wealthiest, will transition to the role of executive chairman.
The surprise announcement came as Amazon reported record fourth- quarter sales that topped $ 100 billion for the first time.
“If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive,” Bezos, 57, said in a statement. “When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long- run cumulative results of invention. Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
Like Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Bezos is closely associated with his company’s brand.
Since founding Amazon as an online bookseller nearly 30 years ago, he has expanded into selling just about anything. On his watch, the company grew into a $ 1.7 trillion retail monolith that employs more than 1.2 million workers.
“Amazon is big simply because it has given customers what they want. To grow it had to take share from other giants of retail, some of which were once seen as unassailable,” Neil Saunders, managing director of consultancy GlobalData Retail, said in a statement.
Among Amazon’s biggest success stories is its cloud computing business, which launched in 2006 led by Jassy, who has long been viewed as Bezos’ heir apparent. Jassy’s ascension was made possible in August when the company announced that another possible successor, Jeff Wilke, would soon retire.
In a letter to employees, Bezos said that as executive chairman he would focus on new products and early initiatives. Amazon’s new leader has his “full confidence,” Bezos said.
Though he became more involved last spring, Bezos had stepped away from Amazon’s day- to- day business in recent years, dabbling in other ventures, from a private space company Blue Origin to The Washington Post.
“This transition may free up Bezos to focus on other ideas that he’s been accumulating over the years,” Tim Hubbard, assistant professor of management at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business, said in an email.
After buying The Washington Post for $ 250 million in 2013, Bezos gave the newspaper the financial wherewithal to achieve a turnaround by investing in newsgathering, technological upgrades and a digital subscription strategy.
The role also brought him unwanted scrutiny. During President Donald Trump’s administration, the president accused Bezos of using The Post as a tool to achieve political outcomes that bettered the newspaper.
In 2019, Bezos said lawyers for supermarket tabloid National Enquirer owner American Media Inc. tried to blackmail him into getting The Post to drop its investigation into the company’s ties to Trump.