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Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO

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https://www.nbcnews.com/news/amp/ncna1256540

 

Jeff Bezos said Tuesday that he will step down as chief executive of Amazon, leaving the helm of the company he founded 27 years ago.

Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter of this year, which starts July 1, the company said. Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon Web Services, will take over as CEO of Amazon.

In a memo to employees, Bezos said the transition will give him "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."

 

The announcement set off alarm bells on Wall Street and throughout the business community, though the transition does not necessarily portend any significant change to Amazon’s business. Amazon reported a year of record growth on Tuesday, including a 38 percent increase in net sales from 2019, netting the company $21 billion in income, nearly double from the year before. Investors didn’t seem fazed by the news, either. Amazon's share price was up about 1.5 percent following the announcement.

Bezos steps away from Amazon at a time when its market value hovers around $1.7 trillion, making it one of the most valuable companies in the world.

It remains to be seen how active Bezos will be in Amazon’s business in his new role. Several major tech executives have stepped down as CEO and remained intimately involved in their companies’ business, including Larry Ellison at Oracle and Bill Gates at Microsoft. Bezos remains one of Amazon's biggest shareholders.

 

"I will reiterate [Jeff Bezos] is not leaving," Brian Olsavsky, chief financial officer of Amazon, told investors on Tuesday. "He's going to be executive chairman, super important role, super active in the Amazon success story."

In Jassy, Bezos is tapping a longtime Amazon employee who joined in 1997 and built the company’s cloud services business, which started as a small addition to its e-commerce operations but has grown in recent years to account for roughly 60 percent of operating profit and has become one of the leaders of the cloud computing industry.

The move is a major turning point in one of the most successful entrepreneurial runs in American history. Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 as an online bookstore, survived the dot-com bubble in the early 2000s, and built the company into one of the largest employers in the U.S. with a network of facilities touching almost every part of the country. Bezos is one of the world's richest people, having recently been edged out of the top spot by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

"The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, 'What’s the internet?,'" Bezos said in the employee memo about the early days of Amazon. "Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while."

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