While the pandemic has been rough for most people, it helped spur Amazon to an historic year in 2020. With everyone stuck at home and unable to go out shopping, Amazon provided a way to buy new stuff without braving the in-person retail world.
This, coupled with Amazon’s steadily-growing market share of online shopping, took the company to new heights. Now, after over 20 years at the helm, CEO Jeff Bezos has announced he’ll soon be stepping down as CEO.
“I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO,” Bezos said in a statement.
Andy Jassy previously has worked as Amazon’s head of cloud services, and is a longtime employee of the company. Jassy helped to grow the cloud services division from a small section of the company to a wing that comprises about 60 percent of Amazon’s profits.
“In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” Bezos continued.
The markets reacted to the news of Bezos impending departure with some sudden dips. Bezos, who has steered the company for some 27 years, leaving his role has led some analysts to believe Amazon could be losing value soon.
However, other traders are not so sure, commenting on the massive inertia the company has. Since Bezos isn’t even leaving a leadership role from within Amazon, and their business operations don’t directly connect to his activity, this will likely only be felt in the form of headlines.
It’s still unclear how active Bezos will be in the day-to-day operations of Amazon in his new position. He noted in a memo to employees that he was taking the time to focus his energy into other projects.
The Amazon head honcho noted in a statement that this will give him the time to focus on “the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”
Bezos’ success story is one of the most dramatic in American entrepreneurial history. Starting Amazon as just a small webpage for selling books, Bezos grew the site into a massive online retailer. Even as the company’s sales continued to climb, Bezos’ vision led him to spearhead initiatives like Amazon Web Services and Amazon Prime.
Now, the company also has its own in-house TV studio that creates streaming content that goes toe-to-toe with big names like Netflix and Hulu.
All this success allowed Bezos to ride his role as the CEO to immense wealth. He has traded back and forth with other extremely wealthy people for the spot of “richest person on Earth,” recently tussling for that title with Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
Amazon in the Public Eye
While Amazon is one of the most valuable companies on Earth, neither the company nor its head honcho are above criticism. The company has been accused of stifling competition with its Amazon Web Services business, and with crushing brick-and-mortar retailers using price undercutting that physical stores can’t keep up with.
Despite Bezos being one of the wealthiest people on the planet, many people employed by Amazon receive some form of government assistance.
This has made Bezos a common target of the ire of left-leaning lawmakers, many of whom have called for stricter regulations and higher tax rates for the extremely wealthy.
Others have defended the company, saying that their massive market share is the result of hard work and careful planning. Indeed, supporters of the company contend, Amazon provides hundreds of thousands of jobs and provides vital web services.