After over two decades at the helm, Jeff Bezos has announced he’s stepping down as CEO of Amazon. Until now, he’s been synonymous with the company, transforming it into one of the great successes of the digital age. Under his leadership, Amazon grew from a tiny startup into a global behemoth that’s made a lasting impression on how people shop online. When Bezos founded the company back in 1994, you needed a dial-up connection to get online—if you even knew about the web at all.
“The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, ‘What’s the internet?’” Bezos wrote in a company-wide email announcing the move.
Obviously, things have changed a lot since then. Amazon now employs 1.3 million people, and the company pioneered new techniques and technologies like ultra-fast Prime shipping, cloud computing, and the Alexa voice-activated assistant. Not even a pandemic could stop its growth. Although 2020 was a difficult year for most companies, Amazon was an exception: It saw a record $125.6 billion in sales in the fourth quarter of last year, and profits doubled to over $7 billion, The New York Times reports. Bezos has profited handsomely too: He’s the second-richest person on the planet, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (Elon Musk only recently nabbed the top spot from him).
Andy Jassy, the head of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will take over as CEO after Bezos steps aside. According to the Times, Jassy has been with the company for decades and is a trusted associate of Bezos. He joined Amazon in 1997, and frequently accompanied Bezos on business trips and meetings. As CEO, he’ll have big shoes to fill: Leading such a large company to great heights isn’t an easy job.
“When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else,” Bezos wrote in the email.
Starting this July, Bezos will trade in his CEO title for a new role with Amazon as executive chairman. The new position will allow him more time to pursue other interests and work with other organizations he leads, he said.
“As Exec Chair I 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.”
Although he’s setting his sights on other projects, Bezos is confident good things lie ahead for the company that made him famous (and insanely wealthy).
“Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future,” he wrote. “I believe we are at our most inventive right now.”
For access to exclusive gear videos, celebrity interviews, and more, subscribe on YouTube!