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Why Amazon Founder is Resigning as the CEO

Dan Henninger of The Wall Street Journal discusses the future of Amazon and Jeff Bezos after he stepped down as CEO.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who revealed plans Tuesday to step down as CEO of the e-commerce giant later in 2021, explained the reasoning behind his decision in an email to company employees.

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In the lengthy message, Bezos said his transition to the role of executive chairman “isn’t about retiring.” While the billionaire plans to maintain an active role in Amazon’s leadership, he cited a desire to spend more time working on his other projects.

“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Bezos wrote. “When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have 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.”

Reaction from Gary Kaltbaum, Business Insider columnist Adam Lashinsky and Barron's reporter Carleton English.

Bezos will officially step down as CEO in the third quarter of Amazon’s fiscal year 2021. As executive chairman, Bezos said he intends to “focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives.”

Andy Jassy, a longtime Amazon executive who currently heads its lucrative web services division, will replace Bezos as CEO.

“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have,” Bezos wrote. “He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”

Amazon announced its transition plan alongside fourth-quarter earnings results. The company generated $125.6 billion in quarterly revenue, marking the first time its results surpassed the $100 billion sales threshold in a single quarter.

Bezos touted Amazon’s record of innovation since its founding in 1994, telling employees that “invention is the root of our success.”

’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now,” Bezos said. “I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.”

Bezos’ full email to Amazon employees can be viewed below or by clicking here.

Fellow Amazonians:

I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO. In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. 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.

This journey began some 27 years ago. 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.

Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized 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, personalized 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.

I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.

As Amazon became large, we decided to use our scale and scope to lead on important social issues. Two high-impact examples: our $15 minimum wage and the Climate Pledge. In both cases, we staked out leadership positions and then asked others to come along with us. In both cases, it’s working. Other large companies are coming our way. I hope you’re proud of that as well.

I find my work meaningful and fun. I get to work with the smartest, most talented, most ingenious teammates. When times have been good, you’ve been humble. When times have been tough, you’ve been strong and supportive, and we’ve made each other laugh. It is a joy to work on this team.

As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have 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. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.

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.




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