Mr. Jeff Bezos, in a letter to Amazon employees, 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.
Congrats @JeffBezos , best wishes for Day 1 and the Earth fund. Congrats @ajassy on your new role!
He will become executive chairman, a move he said would give him “time and energy” to focus on his other ventures.
Mr. 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.
The firm reported $386bn (£283bn) in sales in 2020, up 38% from 2019. Profits almost doubled, rising to $21.3bn.
In announcing the plans, Mr Bezos said he would continue to focus on new products and initiatives.
“When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention,” he said. “Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
The shake-up comes as Mr Bezos has developed an increasingly public profile.
He has endured a public divorce, become a target for labour and inequality activists, and poured his wealth into other businesses, such as space exploration firm Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.
Mr. Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in his garage in 1994 and went on 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.
The division provides cloud computing and storage for governments and companies including McDonald’s and Netflix.
“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence,” Mr Bezos said.
Sophie Lund-Yates, analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said it was “no accident” that Amazon is tapping the head of the cloud business to lead the company.
Top executives and prominent figures at other major companies around the world have been sending their congratulations to Bezos and Jassy via Twitter.
This is a real surprise. But you have to remember that Jeff Bezos himself is worth nearly $200bn.
And when you’re that rich imagine what you can do. Jeff Bezos has some pretty lofty ambitions outside of Amazon.
His Blue Origin company wants to “build a road to space”. He’s also sunk $10bn into Earth Fund, designed to help combat the effects of climate change.
Oh, and he also owns the Washington Post.
How will Amazon cope? Well, importantly, he’s not leaving. As executive chair and founder, he’ll still exercise huge power over the company.
However, stepping back will inevitably mean less influence.
His replacement – Andy Jassy – has been running Amazon Web Services, Amazon’s booming cloud business division.
His rise to the top underscores how important this business has become to Amazon.