Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO and transition to a new position as executive chair of the Amazon board in Q3 2021. Andy Jassy, who currently serves as CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), will replace Bezos as Amazon CEO.
“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else,” commented Bezos in an email announcing the change. “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.”
Bezos has served as Amazon’s CEO since he founded the company in 1994. He has presided over the e-commerce giant as it grew from an online bookstore into one of the world’s most dominant technology companies.
Under Bezos’ stewardship, Amazon has come to rule over internet commerce, established itself as a backbone of the infrastructure of the modern web through its Amazon Web Services products, built a subscription empire around its Amazon Prime services, launched popular technology products like the Echo and Kindle lines of devices, and even started dabbling in physical retail through grocery stores and acquisition of Whole Foods.
Bezos has also prospered as head of the company, with skyrocketing wealth that (until just a few weeks ago) made him the single richest human on Earth, with a net worth of nearly $180 billion.
Bezos’ transition to executive chairman of Amazon’s board will mean he’ll be slightly more removed from the day-to-day business of running the nearly $1.7 trillion company, allowing him to focus his “energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.” Those projects will include the $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund, which Bezos established last year, and Blue Origins, his aerospace firm, which recently resumed test flights at the end of 2020.
Jassy is a familiar face at the company, having joined back in 1997. He has led the Amazon Web Services team since it was founded in 2003 and was named the CEO of AWS in 2016. Since the beginning, the choice of Jassy — who has headed Amazon’s cloud service business — over a retail or hardware executive is a telling one for Amazon’s priorities as a company.
Amazon’s cloud business is a huge part of the company (and the internet at large, to the point where AWS outages can take down whole swaths of internet for hours), and its new leadership choice reflects that. It’s also a parallel to other major tech CEOs, like Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, who was similarly an instrumental part of its cloud and server business before taking charge of Microsoft in 2014.
It’ll still be some time before Jassy takes over, though — Bezos isn’t set to transition to his new role until Q3 2021.