Amazon announced on Tuesday that the company's founder, Jeff Bezos, will step down as chief executive. This is coming after the company recorded $100bn in sales for the last three months of 2020.
Handing Over The Reins
Bezos will remain executive chair, but he's handing over control of the company to Andy Jassy, chief executive of Amazon's fast-growing cloud computing business, Amazon Web Services.
Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in 1994 and built it into one of the biggest companies in the world, with a fortune of $185bn. Amazon, which started as an online bookseller, is now a leading name in cloud computing, groceries, electronics and entertainment, and employs more than 1.1 million people.
"Amazon is what it is because of invention,” said Bezos. “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. When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention.
"Right now, I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
Taking A Step Back
News of Bezos' retirement has come as a surprise, largely due to its timing, even though it has not been completely unexpected. In recent years, he has scaled down on his responsibilities on Amazon in order to devote more attention to his other interests including space exploration and his ownership of the Washington Post.
The 52-year-old Jassy has been touted as Bezos's natural replacement. His position was given a boost by the planned retirement of Jeff Wilke, who ran Amazon's retail business and who provided the stiffest competition to Jassy.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) – which provides cloud computing and storage for governments and companies including McDonald’s and Netflix – has become one of the company’s most important businesses, accounting for 10% of sales in the last quarter and 52% of the company’s profits.