Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos made headlines at the start of the second month of 2021 after announcing plans to step down this year to focus on new products and other initiatives. To fill in the big shoes he will leave behind is Andy Jassy, long-time CEO of Amazon Web Services.
In a memo addressed to his employees, whom he referred to as his "fellow Amazonians," Bezos further shared the details of his plan. There, he wrote how he will still be involved with the world’s largest online retailer for the first two quarters of the year. Then, once the Q3 rolls in, he will slowly transition to his new role as the Executive Chair of the Amazon Board.
Bezos went on to express his confidence and belief in Jassy, who has been working for the 27-year-old company since 1997 and has taken AWS to great heights. Under Jassy’s leadership, AWS has signed major customers such as Verizon, McDonald’s, and Honeywell. The cloud business also reported an annual revenue growth of 37% in 2019 and 30% in 2020.
The 57-year-old billionaire also explained how his decision to give up the CEO role was primarily inspired by his desire to zoom in on new projects and other ventures, such as the Bezos Climate Fund, the Washington Post, and his space flight company, Blue Origin.
Despite the preparations, the transition, of course, is not expected to go seamlessly. Amazon shares dipped after the announcement in early February as investors took some time to digest the news. Company share prices, after all, are reflective not just of the performance of a company — and Amazon has performed remarkably well in the past year, topping $100 billion in Q4 alone — but also investor sentiment. However, investors can take a cautiously hopeful outlook: Amazon’s stock has jumped 70% over the past year.
It’s also important to note how the ongoing global health crisis will likely continue to spell growth for the company. After all, the pandemic-driven demand for online shopping alone successfully increased company sales by 37% to hit $386 billion (£280 billion), as reported by the company on 2nd February.
To venture capitalists like Tom Alberg, Bezos' decision to focus on his new endeavours can be likened to the second act of Bill Gates. After all, the Microsoft co-founder has successfully established himself as one of the world’s leading philanthropists after he gave up his chief executive post in 2000. Alberg believes that there’s a great chance Bezos’s close attention to space travel and climate change could have the same lasting impact.
Bezos may finally be moving on to the next chapter of his life, but that shouldn't be a reason for the retail giant's competitors to rest easy. Amazon will continue to be a retail giant that commands 40% and 30% of all US and UK e-commerce, respectively. In addition to this, the ever-growing Amazon Prime service, which has over 126 million users, will only bring in greater market share for the company, even with minimal focus. This reality highlights the continuous need for managers and business leaders to watch out for the multinational company in order to thrive in the retail and tech sectors.