Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said Tuesday he would stand aside later this year as chief executive of the company he built from a startup into one of the world’s most valuable firms.
Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person based on his Amazon stake, said he would transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter, handing over the CEO role to Andy Jassy, who heads Amazon Web Services.
The news came as Amazon reported a blowout holiday quarter with profits more than doubling to $7.2 billion and revenue jumping 44 per cent to $125.6 billion. This is because pandemic lockdowns caused online sales to explode around the globe.
In a letter to Amazon employees, Bezos said he would “stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives” but would pivot towards philanthropic initiatives, including his Day One Fund and Bezos Earth Fund, and other business ventures in space exploration and journalism.
Bezos wrote “I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring,” “I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”
Bezos, a 57-year-old, founded Amazon in his garage in 1994 and went further to grow it into a colossus that dominates online retail, with operations in streaming music and television, groceries, cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.
He has other businesses which include; The Washington Post newspaper and the private space firm Blue Origin.
His successor Jassy joined Amazon as a marketing manager in 1997 and in 2003 founded AWS, the cloud services division of the company which has been one of the most profitable but least-known units of the tech giant.
Bezos said of Jassy “He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”
“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition,” he said.
Wedbush analyst Dan Ives saw giving command of Amazon to Jassy as a “major step up in the clouds arms race with crosstown rival Microsoft.” – Vast expansion- Bezos’s tenure at Amazon has been marked by a vast expansion globally and surges in profitability. The company is based in Seattle, Washington, and is developing a second headquarters outside the US capital.
Amazon’s market value was some $1.69 trillion as of Tuesday, a tenfold increase from a decade ago, making it one of the world’s most valuable. Bezos’s stake gives him a personal fortune worth an estimated $196 billion, slightly more than Tesla chief Elon Musk who had briefly captured the title of world’s wealthiest person. Amazon has led other businesses by guaranteeing a minimum of $15 per hour wage and has invested billions in Covid-19 mitigation.