Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will step down as head of the company he founded 30 years ago.
In a memo to employees, Bezos said the transition will give him “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.”
The world’s richest man will be replaced by Andy Jassy, the CEO of Amazon Web Services, according to a Tuesday memo.
Bezos’s announcement came as Amazon announced financials for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Net sales increased 44 percent to $125.6 billion as opposed to $87.4 billion in the fourth quarter of 2019.
In a Tuesday statement, Bezos said it was the “optimal time” for the leadership change.
The leadership change will happen in the fall, when he will swap his current title for ‘executive chair’.
Andy Jassy, 52, the chief executive of Amazon Web Services, will take over as CEO.
In a letter to his 1.3 million employees, Bezos said he intends to focus his “energies and attention on new products and early initiatives”.
He added that he is excited about the transition and Amazon “couldn’t be better positioned for the future”.
The new CEO, Jassy joined Amazon in 1997.
The announcement set off alarm bells on Wall Street and throughout the business community, though the transition does not necessarily portend any significant change to Amazon’s business. Amazon reported a year of record growth on Tuesday, including a 38 percent increase in net sales from 2019, netting the company $21 billion in income, nearly double from the year before. Investors didn’t seem fazed by the news, either.
Amazon’s share price was up about 1.5 percent following the announcement.
It remains to be seen how active Bezos will be in Amazon’s business in his new role. Several major tech executives have stepped down as CEO and remained intimately involved in their companies’ business, including Larry Ellison at Oracle and Bill Gates at Microsoft. Bezos remains one of Amazon’s biggest shareholders.