Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said Tuesday he would stand aside later this year as chief executive of the company he built from a startup into one of the world’s most valuable firms.
The world’s richest person based on his Amazon stake, Bezos said he will transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter, handing over the CEO role to Andy Jassy, who heads Amazon Web Services.
The news came as Amazon reported a blowout holiday quarter with profits more than doubling to $7.2 billion and revenue jumping 44 percent to $125.6 billion — as pandemic lockdowns caused online sales to explode around the globe.
In a letter to Amazon employees, Bezos said he would “stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives” but would pivot towards philanthropic initiatives, including his Day One Fund and Bezos Earth Fund, and other business ventures in space exploration and journalism.
“I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring,” Bezos wrote.
“I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”
Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in his garage in 1994 and went on to grow it into a colossus that dominates online retail, with operations in streaming music and television, groceries, cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.
His other businesses include The Washington Post newspaper and the private space firm Blue Origin.
His successor Jassy joined Amazon as a marketing manager in 1997 and in 2003 founded AWS, the cloud services division of the company which has been one of the most profitable but least-known units of the tech giant.
“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have,” Bezos said in a statement. “He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”
“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition,” he said.Jeff Bezos to step down as Amazon CEO this year
Bezos’s tenure at Amazon has been marked by a stunning success over the past few years that has seen a vast expansion globally and surges in profitability.
The company based in Seattle, Washington, and is developing a second headquarters outside the US capital.