The day after Independence Day in the U.S., Jeff Bezos will give up the day-to-day reins of the now-colossal company he founded nearly three decades ago.
Bezos, speaking Wednesday at Amazon’s annual shareholder — his last as CEO — announced that he will step aside as chief exec on July 5, whereupon Andy Jassy, who is currently CEO of Amazon Web Services, will take over the role.
Amazon had previously announced the CEO transition plan. Bezos isn’t going to stray very far — he will remain involved in major decisions at the company as executive chairman.
“I’m very excited to move into the exec chair role where I will focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” Bezos said.
About the July 5 date, Bezos said, “We chose that date because it’s sentimental for me: the day Amazon was incorporated in 1994, exactly 27 years ago.” Bezos reiterated his confidence in Jassy, telling shareholders that “He has the highest of high standards and I guaranty that Andy will never let the universe make us typical. He has the energy needed to keep alive in us what has made us special.”
Also at the shareholders meeting, Bezos addressed Amazon’s blockbuster deal to buy MGM, saying that the thesis for the $8.45 billion acquisition “is really very simple: MGM has a vast, deep catalog of much-loved intellectual property. With the talented people at MGM and Amazon Studios, we can reimagine and develop that IP for the 21s century.”
Jassy, who has been with Amazon since 1997, launched the AWS cloud-computing division 18 years ago. It has now become Amazon’s most profitable segment: For the full year 2020, AWS generated revenue of $45.3 billion, up 30%, and delivered an operating margin of 30% (compared with 5.9% for the company overall).
Before the official CEO handoff, one of Jassy’s first big moves has been to bring back former senior exec Jeff Blackburn to Amazon to oversee the company’s newly consolidated media and entertainment division. Blackburn is set to return to Amazon on June 7.