Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos has today stepped down from the leadership role at the cloud and e-commerce giant.
Bezos had announced in early February he would step down sometime in the third quarter and would be succeeded by Amazon veteran Andy Jassy, who was previously the head of Amazon’s cloud computing business (AWS).
In late May Bezos confirmed he would step down on 5 July, after 27 years in charge.
Bezos admitted that the 5 July date is sentiment for him, as he had incorporated Amazon on 5 July 1994 in a Seattle garage, where the firm began life as an online book seller.
Bezos will now transition to executive chairman of the Amazon board.
His replacement, Andy Jassy, however will have a number of immediate challenges on his desk when he enters the CEO office.
He has to oversee the successful integration of veteran film studio MGM, which Amazon recently purchased for $8.5 billion. Jassy also has to ensure the MGM content library will help Amazon Prime Video compete effectively against the likes of Netflix, Disney+ and others.
Jassy also has to oversee Amazon’s ongoing legal challenge against the US government’s decision to award the Pentagon JEDI contract exclusively to Microsoft, despite AWS being widely regarded as favourite to win the contract.
He also has to ensure Amazon Web Services (AWS) retains its leading position in the cloud services marketplace.
Want to know more about the history of Amazon? Read Silicon UK’s Tales in Tech History.
Another headache for Jassy is that Amazon is being sued by Letitia James, New York’s attorney general.
The NY lawsuit alleges that Amazon carried out ‘disregard for health and safety requirements’ during the Coronavirus pandemic, and practised retaliation against employees who raised alarms.
Amazon is also being challenged in the United States over its lack of trade union representation in its warehouses.
And then there is the small matter of antitrust challenges.
Jassy and Amazon are facing an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Attorney General of the District of Columbia (Washington DC). Attorney General Karl Racine claims the company’s practices have “raised prices for consumers and stifled innovation and choice across the entire online retail market.”
And on this side of the pond tougher new laws in Germany are being used to begin an antitrust investigation of Amazon over alleged market domination.
The European Commission meanwhile has already hit Amazon with its “Statement of Objections” in November 2020, which it said concerns “the use of non-public independent seller data”.
The EC alleged Amazon had used data on third-party sellers that use its marketplace to boost sales of its own-label goods.
So Jassy will have his hands full for the foreseeable future, but what is next for Jeff Bezos, aged 57?
Jeff Bezos of course is the world’s richest man, and the simple answer is that he will soon be blasting off into outer space.
Bezos had surprised some when he announced in June that he and his brother (Mark Bezos) would be onboard Blue Origin’s New Shepard, when it blasts off into orbit more than 100km (62 miles) above the Earth’s surface on 20 July.
But Bezos has other interests as well.
He is expected to continue his environmental drive. It should be remembered that Bezos in February 2020 had created the Bezos Earth Fund, a $10bn initiative to support scientists, activists and charities working to tackle the climate crisis.
Bezos is also expected to continue his other charity work, namely the Bezos Day One Fund, which aims to tackle homelessness and improve education for children in low-income families. He has funded this drive with billions of dollars in donations.
That said, Bezos is the only world of the world’s five wealthiest people not to have signed the Giving Pledge, a philanthropic initiative created by Bill Gates and the investor Warren Buffett to encourage the world’s richest people to commit to giving at least half of their wealth to charity.
Bezos is also expected to devote more time to the Washington Post, the world famous newspaper he bought in 2013 for $250 million.
So today is when Bezos will relinquish much of his iron grip Amazon’s big decisions.
That said, Bezos remains Amazon’s largest shareholder and his role of executive chairman of Amazon’s board should allow him to continue to steer the global juggernaut, that is Amazon, in the years ahead.
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