In a letter to employees on Tuesday, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced he will step down from the role, with longtime executive Andy Jassy taking over in the third quarter of the fiscal year. Bezos, who founded the ubiquitous e-commerce giant in 1994 as an online bookstore, will stay on as the executive chairman of Amazon’s board.
Jassy, the head of Amazon’s massive web-services cloud team, had previously been considered a top candidate to take over upon Bezos’s departure. In his new role, Bezos wrote that he will focus on “new products and early initiatives” for the multinational.
Amazon shareholders have seen tremendous gains over the past year, as an airborne pandemic has made the prospect of shopping from home even more enticing to American consumers who can afford to do so. (Soaring business due to the coronavirus also made Bezos the first-ever person with a net worth north of $200 billion.) The news of the changeup at the top came alongside an earnings report in which the firm posted its first $100 billion quarter.
In the announcement, Bezos commented on the ways his company has altered American spending. “If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal,” Bezos wrote of buying stuff online. “People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.” He added that, “when you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention. Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
Some of the most pressing factors that Jassy will need to transition through include an increasing regulatory focus on Amazon’s business and continued labor disputes among its more than 1.3 million employees. In October, the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust published the results of an investigation that determined that Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google all hold monopoly power over their fields. Increased demand during the pandemic has also exacerbated the already-grueling schedules that managers have set for warehouse workers and delivery drivers. As of October 2020, close to 20,000 Amazon employees had contracted the coronavirus.