Jeff Bezos, richest man in the world and Cartoon Network TV villain, is stepping down as Amazon CEO some 27 years after he founded the shopping giant.
In an email to his “fellow Amazonians” (cringe), Bezos said he’l be transitioning to the role of Amazon Board executive chair, with Andy Jassy – current CEO of Amazon Web Services – stepping up into the big boy seat.
“In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” Bezos said.
“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”
Bezos – who once again overtook Elon Musk to be the richest man in the world, with his personal wealth sitting at US $196 billion – spoke about his near three-decade journey to create a corporation almost impossible to escape from.
“This journey began some 27 years ago,” he said.
“Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name. The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, “What’s the internet?” Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.”
[pause for self-satisfied chuckle]
“Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognised as one of the most successful companies in the world.
“How did that happen? Invention. Invention is the root of our success. We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalised recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.”
Bezos said that no other company had as great an “invention track record” as Amazon, which might be true but only brings to mind its lacking track record on other things, like working conditions or annihilating small and medium-sized businesses.
“I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am,” he said. “I think you should be.”
The transition to board exec will give Bezos time to focus Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post and his “other projects”, he said.
“I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organisations can have,” he said.
“Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish. We serve individuals and enterprises, and we’ve pioneered two complete industries and a whole new class of devices. We are leaders in areas as varied as machine learning and logistics, and if an Amazonian’s idea requires yet another new institutional skill, we’re flexible enough and patient enough to learn it.
“Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1.”