Jeff Bezos, the founder, and CEO of Amazon, has announced that he will step down this year in the company’s third quarter. Taking his place in the position will be Andy Jassy, who started working with the company in 1997, and had been the leader of Amazon’s Web Services cloud team since its creation. Bezos will become an executive chairman on Amazon’s board.
Jeff Bezos said in a letter sent to his employees that in his new role as executive chair, he will “focus my energies and attention on new projects and early initiatives.” Bezos founded Amazon in 1994, which started as an online bookstore and has turned into a mammoth seller of everything one could imagine, even creating their own devices like the Google Nest and the Kindle, as well as offering their streaming service, Prime Video.
Last year, Amazon surpassed a $1 trillion valuation, which the company had also reached back in September 2018. Amazon is one of the few companies, along with Apple, Alphabet, and Microsoft, which have met this landmark. As of now, Amazon is worth $1.6 trillion. Jeff Bezos has said while he still will work on important Amazon projects, his stepping down will allow him to work on his other projects, including the Bezos Earth Fund, The Washington Post, the Amazon Day 1 Fund, and even Bezos’ Blue Origin spaceship company.
Jeff Bezos said that he has “full confidence” in his successor, Andy Jassy. Bezos mentions that Jassy has been with Amazon almost since the beginning, and as the leader of Amazon’s Web Services, he’s been an integral part of the company’s success. In October 2020, it was reported that over half of Amazon’s income came from Amazon’s Web Services division.
Amazon has recently been a major part of antitrust investigations, which Andy Jassy will not have to navigate. The House Judiciary subcommittee said that Amazon, Alphabet, Apple, and Facebook all hold monopoly power that could lead to their companies being separated. Amazon is also facing similar charges from European regulators, specifically pointing out that Amazon uses “very granular, real-time” data to help decide new products, prices, which items to restock, and which suppliers they should use. No word on what Jeff Bezos or Andy Jassy’s plans for this type of regulation could be.
In a recent documentary from Frontline about Amazon and Jeff Bezos, Andy Jassy made some controversial statements, saying that he believed that police should be able to use facial recognition technology, saying “let’s see if they somehow abuse the technology.” Jassy also stated that he would not be against Amazon selling its facial recognition technology to foreign governments that the United States is allowed to deal with.
But considering Jeff Bezos has been so integral and directly tied into Amazon’s success, it will be intriguing to see if the company drastically changes with someone else at the reins. Amazon without Jeff Bezos at the head is like Microsoft without Bill Gates or Facebook without Mark Zuckerberg. How will Andy Jassy’s ascension into Bezos’ seat alter the company that has only known Bezos’ rule?