Jeff Bezos steps down as CEO with Amazon attacked

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Amazon’s revenue last night included more than the usual unlabeled facts, figures and growth charts. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, who sketched out the business plan for Amazon while cross-country in 1994 with his wife MacKenzie, was to resign this summer. The most logical heir, Jeff Wilke, has beaten Bezos to the door, announcing his retirement last year. So the job goes to Andy Jassy, Head of Amazon Cloud Services. Bezos says he will stick around A la Bill Gates, as Executive Chairman.

The news was greeted with all manner of retrospectives, long lists of accomplishments, and stunning stock charts (Amazon’s stocks rose 225,233% since the company went public in 1997, making each of the now divorced Bezos among the richest people in the world).

in the Fortune archives, former writer Leena Rao Jassy profile in 2015 to explain how a marketing manager and Mets fan came to lead Amazon’s web services unit. And former Data Sheet scribe Adam Lashinsky posted two masterpieces on Bezos, calling him the “ultimate disruptor»In 2012 and followed up with the evolution of the CEO four years later. A deeply reported classic that has truly stood the test of time is the Chip Bayers profile, Interior Jeff Bezos, of Wired in 1999.

“Amazon’s three big ideas are long-term thinking, customer obsession, and the willingness to invent,” Bezos told Lashinsky in 2012, a fitting mantra for an executive who built the ecommerce company. all-time dominant and also helped invent cloud computing. Check out the tech history books and it’s hard to find a company that has unleashed two new, unrelated and huge markets like this one. Apple’s iPhone business is amazing, but a logical evolution from personal computers. Google invented search, but bought YouTube and was a laggard in cloud computing. Microsoft’s server and application companies were built from Windows and then moved to the cloud.

Still, I must have laughed when I saw plays pointing out that Bezos was coming out on top. Of course, at $ 1.7 trillion, Amazon’s stock market value is close to the highest it has ever been. And the pandemic has accelerated changes online shopping and computing, primarily with Amazon.

But like Bill Gates, who resigned amid the antitrust attack on Microsoft, Bezos leaves with his besieged castle. The House Judiciary Committee established the basics of an antitrust case last year and with Google and Facebook already sued, Amazon is probably next in the government’s sights. The European Union already has a case To go. And while Amazon has nothing to do with our social media misinformation problem, it’s center of effort to unionize technology workers. Another bad look: Amazon pays $ 62 million to its Flex pilots for Withhold tips incorrectly.

Back in the tech history books, transitions from founder and CEO to next leader include duds like Gates to Steve Ballmer, but also hits like Steve Jobs to Tim Cook, Bob Noyce to Andy Grove and Bill Hewlett to John Young. Hopefully we can put “Bezos à Jassy” in the positive column in a few years.

Aaron Pressman
@ampressman
aaron.pressman@fortune.com



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