Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced last Tuesday that, after 26 years as CEO, he will be stepping down and handing over the position to the head of Amazon Web Services, Andy Jassy. Sometime this summer, Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair, allowing him to shift his focus without creating too much commotion. “This isn’t about retiring,” said Bezos in a letter to his employees. “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’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.” Bezos still holds 10 percent of Amazon’s shares and, according to the New York Times, has already delegated his many day-to-day responsibilities.
In recent years Amazon has dominated the global market of online shipping, with its fourth-quarter earnings more than doubled in the past year to $7 billion on more than $100 billion in sales. Bezos himself is worth over $200 billion. Despite this rapid and impressive growth, the company has often been under fire for mistreating its employees. It has been criticized for underpaying its workers and, more recently, failing to take adequate safety measures to protect its workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Andy Jassy now inherits these issues as he steps up to the plate. He joined Amazon in 1997 after graduating from Harvard University, shadowing Bezos as his technical assistant and helping with many large projects, such as the creation of Amazon Web Services. “Jassy was the obvious choice,” according to Eric J. Savitz of Barron’s magazine.
What does this mean for the future of the company? According to Morgan Stanley analyst Brian Nowak, “Bezos will still be around, Jassy knows what he’s doing, the bench is deep, e-commerce is still accelerating, and so is Amazon Web Services.”