By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(SEATTLE) — Amazon announced Tuesday that Jeff Bezos will be stepping down as CEO — and transitioning to executive chair of the company’s board — in the third quarter of this year.
Andy Jassy, the current chief executive of Amazon Web Services, will replace Bezos as the e-commerce giant’s new CEO.
In a memo to Amazon staff posted on the company’s website, Bezos reflected on how the firm he founded in 1994 has exploded into the e-commerce behemoth it is today over the past few decades.
“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Bezos wrote. “Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”
As executive chair of the board, Bezos said he will “stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have 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.”
“I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring,” Bezos wrote. “I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”
Bezos also expressed confidence in his successor, Jassy, saying he “has been at Amazon almost as long as I have.”
“He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence,” Bezos added.
Jassy has been with Amazon since 1997, and has driven new growth for the company as head of its cloud-computing arm, AWS.
Amazon has propelled Bezos to become one of the wealthiest people on the planet, with a net worth of some $188 billion, according to Bloomberg data. He was only recently unseated as the richest man on the planet earlier this month when Tesla chief executive Elon Musk’s net worth surpassed his.
The coronavirus pandemic has fueled an increased demand for delivery goods, and saw Amazon’s profits skyrocket over the past year.
Bezos and Amazon’s dominance in the e-commerce sphere have, however, courted controversy in recent years. In July, he and other tech chiefs were called to testify before lawmakers in a wide-ranging hearing on monopolies and more.
In a separate statement Tuesday, Bezos said, “Amazon is what it is because of invention.”
“We do crazy things together and then make them normal,” he added. “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.”
He concluded by saying he sees Amazon at its “most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
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