Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some tea and it involves Jeff Bezos and Amazon.
Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and CEO of Washington Post, will step down as chief executive of the e-commerce giant, turning over the reins to the company’s boss Andy Jassy. Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair this summer, the company said as it announced fourth quarter earnings. “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 said in an earnings release Tuesday.
The transition marks the shake up going on in Amazon’s corporate ranks. Under Bezos’s stewardship, Amazon evolved from an upstart online bookseller into one of the world’s most popular Internet marketplaces able to quickly deliver a vast catalogue of products and services. It also developed a massive, profit driving cloud computing business that now powers websites around the world.
Under Bezos’s, Amazon evolved from an upstart online bookseller into one of the world’s most popular Internet marketplaces able to quickly deliver a vast catalogue of products and services. Bezos creation helped set in motion a massive change in the way people around the world shop, as people began buying toothpaste to car parts to consumer electronics on their PCs and phones. Amazon also triggered a sea change in physical retail, accelerating the shuttering of shopping malls and stores. That shift has only accelerated as the coronavirus pandemic fueled a surge in online shopping as worried customers shunned stores. To make the e commerce business run, Amazon had to create an array of computer data centers, stacked with rows upon rows of servers, to make sure the online marketplace could handle the growing business. That developed into a new market for the company, Amazon Web Services, a giant, profit driving cloud computing operation that now powers websites around the world.
Bezos, set up the transition to Jassy last summer, when the company announced that one of his possible successors, Jeff Wilke, would soon retire. That paved the way for Jassy to take the CEO job. To Tom Alberg, a venture capitalist and longtime Amazon director who stepped down from the board two years ago, Jassy was the obvious choice. “Andy has lived his whole life in that culture, and that culture is so strong,” Alberg said. Jassy’s Amazon career is defined by his leading Amazon into a wholly new market, cloud computing, a business the company has come to dominate just as aggressively as it leads in the world of e-commerce. And the fact that Jassy now succeeds Bezos offers insight into Amazon: that the company still values high risk, high reward bets and is less defined by online shopping than some might think.
Jassy joined the company in 1997 after graduating from Harvard Business School. At the time, Amazon had only a few hundred employees and had just gone public. The executive pioneered the company’s entry into music sales, Amazon’s first push outside books. In the early 2000s, Jassy shadowed Bezos as his technical assistant, something of a chief-of-staff role. And he helped launch AWS, which upended the software industry with its ability to rent space and software programming for customers to run their technical operations on Amazon’s vast array of servers.
Bezos’s interests have changed over the years as he personally pushed into new industries. That included launching Blue Origin roughly 20 years ago, a space travel company with the stated goal of “millions of people living and working in space.” While the company has struggled, Bezos has invested to the tune of $1 billion a year in the company and rhapsodizes about a future in which humans live in massive habitats in orbit and mine asteroids. He has said it “is the most important work I’m doing.”The company is focused, in part, on developing a spacecraft capable of ferrying astronauts to and from the moon’s surface.
He has also funded new philanthropic efforts in recent years. He said in a note to employees Tuesday that he would focus on these other gambits, including The Post, which he purchased in 2013.
“When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else,” he said.