Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to step down as CEO in Q3
World’s wealthiest person to become executive chair; AWS CEO Andy Jassy will ascend to Amazon CEO
Amazon.com Inc. announced Tuesday that Jeff Bezos, who founded the e-commerce company in 1994, will step down as CEO and transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter of 2021. Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will succeed Bezos.
“Amazon is what it is because of invention,” Bezos said in a statement. “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.”
As part of Amazon’s massive growth since its inception, the company in late 2018 announced its would bring its second headquarters to the East Coast — and Northern Virginia no less. The Long Island City area of Queens in New York had also been in the running for the headquarters, but Virginia came out on top. The $2.5 billion HQ2 project promises to bring 25,000 jobs to Virginia in the next decade. As of December 2020, Amazon had hired more than 1,600 people for its Arlington location. Bezos also owns a mansion in Washington, D.C.’s tony Kalorama neighborhood, which he paid $23 million for in 2016. (His neighbors there include former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama.)
On the same day the company announced Bezos’ change in status, Amazon also released its record-setting 2020 financial results, showing a 72% increase in operating cash flow to a whopping $66.1 billion for the whole year, compared with 2019. Its net sales for the year were $361.1 billion, a 38% increase from 2019. For the fourth quarter of 2020, the company posted $125.5 billion in holiday-fueled sale. It was the first time Amazon’s quarterly sales have surpassed $100 billion. Amazon posted $7.2 billion in net income in the fourth quarter.
“If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal,” Bezos said in a statement. “People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.
“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.”
Despite impressive 2020 financial results, Amazon stock took a sharp dive around 4 p.m. on Tuesday, around the time the company made the announcement that Bezos would be stepping down.
Despite the drop, Bezos retains his spot at the top of the Forbes real-time list of the world’s wealthiest people, with a net worth estimated at $196.2 billion as of Tuesday evening, Feb. 2.