A Jeff Bezos Day in the News

Page one in the New York Times:

SEATTLE — When Jeff Bezos founded an online bookseller named Amazon in 1994, he said the question that he was asked most frequently was “What’s the internet?”

Mr. Bezos answered by building Amazon into a $1.7 trillion behemoth that sold so many different items online it became known as “the everything store.” In the process, he upended the retail industry, turned Amazon into a logistics giant, and expanded into cloud computing, streaming entertainment and artificial intelligence-powered devices. For a time, he was the world’s richest person.

On Tuesday, Mr. Bezos, 57, said his run at the top of the Seattle-based company was over.

As Amazon reported its latest set of blockbuster financial results, Mr. Bezos said he planned to hand over the reins this summer and transition into the role of executive chairman. Andy Jassy, 53, the chief executive of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will be promoted to run the entire company.

Page one in the Wall Street Journal:

Jeff Bezos is stepping down as chief executive of Amazon. com to become executive chairman, marking the biggest change in leadership of the tech giant since he started it in a Washington state garage more than 26 years ago.

Amazon said on Tuesday that he will be succeeded as CEO in the third quarter by Andy Jassy, Mr. Bezos’s closest lieutenant and the longtime head of the company’s booming cloud-computing business.

Mr. Bezos, 57 years old, is handing over the day-to-day reins, as Amazon’s core businesses of online retail and business-computing services are booming during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has shifted work and life to the internet more than ever. The company announced his changing role as it reported that revenue in the fourth quarter soared 44% to $125.56 billion—surpassing $100 billion for the first time in a three-month span—and profit more than doubled.

Page 16 in the Bezos-owned Washington Post:

SEATTLE — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down as chief executive of the e-commerce giant, turning over the reins to the company’s longtime cloud-computing boss Andy Jassy.

Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, will transition to the role of executive chair this summer, the company said Tuesday. The looming transition marks the most radical shake-up in Amazon’s corporate ranks in its nearly 30-year history. Bezos moves into a new role, with a title made for him, that keeps him at the company in a position where he will focus on innovation at Amazon and hands off the top job to a trusted deputy.

“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,” Bezos said in an earnings release Tuesday.

Under Bezos’s stewardship, Amazon evolved from an upstart online bookseller into one of the world’s most popular Internet marketplaces able to quickly deliver a vast catalogue of products and services. Bezos’s creation helped set in motion a massive change in the way people around the world shop, as people began buying toothpaste to car parts to groceries on their PCs and phones. Amazon also triggered a sea change in physical retail, accelerating the shuttering of shopping malls and stores. That shift has only accelerated as the coronavirus pandemic fueled a surge in online shopping as worried customers shunned stores.

Page one in the Seattle Times:

In the nearly 27 years since Jeff Bezos founded Amazon in the garage of his Clyde Hill home, he has transformed the business from an upstart online bookseller into a marketplace so expansive — and domineering — that adherents and critics alike call it the “everything store.”

Now, Bezos is preparing to take a step back from the company that has grown synonymous with his name, Amazon announced Tuesday in a news release reporting fourth-quarter earnings results.

By October, Bezos will step down as CEO, to be replaced by deputy Andy Jassy, 53, who leads Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s cloud-computing unit. Bezos, 57, will transition to the role of executive chair of Amazon’s board of directors.

Bezos had distanced himself from much of Amazon’s day-to-day business in recent years. But he stepped back into the fray during the pandemic, during which Amazon recorded its most profitable year ever. In 2020, sales surged 38% to $386.1 billion from a year earlier, while profit roughly doubled to $21.3 billion, or $41.83 per share.

Amazon’s financial results “are the long-run cumulative results of invention,” Bezos said in a statement. “Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”

In an email to Amazon employees, Bezos said he intended to focus on new products and early initiatives, as well as “other passions” that include philanthropic giving through the Day 1 Fund and the Bezos Earth Fund; Blue Origin, his secretive space venture; and The Washington Post.

From Washington-based politico.com:

Jeff Bezos’ decision to step down as Amazon’s CEO comes as the online retailing giant is facing unprecedented scrutiny in Washington — from antitrust probes and criticism over its tax and labor practices to its role as a gatekeeper granting other companies access to the web.

And his chosen replacement has been in the thick of some of Amazon’s highest-profile battles.

As chief of Amazon Web Services, the company’s lucrative cloud division, Andy Jassy played a role in Amazon’s decision last month to boot the conservative-friendly social media platform Parler from the internet after last month’s Capitol riots. AWS is also embroiled in a court battle over a multibillion-dollar cloud contract that the Pentagon awarded to Microsoft, amid heavy scrutiny from former President Donald Trump. Antitrust advocates including Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have specifically cited AWS as a piece of Amazon that the federal government should break off to lessen the company’s power.

Yet to hear Jassy tell it less than two years ago, Amazon hasn’t spent much time fretting about threats from Washington.

“We don’t spend a lot of time talking about it,” Jassy said during a June 2019 tech conference in Arizona, as POLITICO reported at the time. He spoke just as the antitrust heat on the tech industry was ramping up, with the news that the Justice Department was moving to open a probe of Google.

Less than a year ago, Jassy dismissed the idea that Amazon automatically wipes out any competitor it takes on, calling it “folklore.”

The company announced ahead of its latest quarterly earnings call on Tuesday that Bezos “will transition to the role of Executive Chair in the third quarter of 2021 and Andy Jassy will become Chief Executive Officer at that time.”

The announcement marks the biggest transition of power to date for the tech behemoth, which rose from humble beginnings as an online book-selling platform to become one of the first trillion-dollar companies in history, with a sprawling footprint that includes e-commerce, cloud computing, music and video, and brick-and-mortar retailers like Whole Foods.

“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition,” Bezos said in a statement announcing the move. . . .

He will also continue to loom large in Washington — as the owner of both the Post and D.C.’s largest private house, and as Amazon plans a new headquarters that would spiral into the skyline across the Potomac in Arlington, Va.

Speak Your Mind