Amazon’s founder, chief executive and until a few weeks ago the world’s richest man Jeff Bezos has officially announced his plans to step down from his role after nearly 30 years.
Having grown Amazon from a garage-based online bookstore in 1994 to a trillion-dollar company, which just turned over $100 billion in a single quarter, Bezos will leave behind some considerable shoes to fill.
Andy Jassy, a relative unknown compared to his predecessor, will take the reins when Bezos relinquishes his role some time in Q3 of this year and becomes executive chair of Amazon’s board.
Jassy, 53, has long been touted as a likely successor to Bezos having masterminded Amazon Web Services (AWS) staggering rise to prominence.
According to Bezos, Jassy has been at Amazon “almost as long as I have” having joined in 1997 days after completing his last exam at Harvard Business School.
“I took my last final exam at HBS, the first Friday of May in 1997, and I started Amazon next Monday,” Jassy told the Harvard Business School podcast.
“No, I didn’t know what my job was going to be, or what my title was going to be. It was super important to the Amazon people that we come that Monday.”
In 1998 Jassy, a confirmed music and sports fanatic, was responsible for pushing Amazon to expand its product offering beyond books and begin selling CDs.
Eight years later Jassy was credited with founding Amazon’s now market leading cloud computing service.
AWS was launched in 2006 after the company realised its finely tuned shopping platform could be sold as a product in itself, offering third party companies web hosting, computer processing and storage for relatively little money.
The cloud computing service is now used by millions of companies including the CIA and is thought by many to be more valuable than Amazon’s retail business.
Last year AWS grew 28 per cent to achieve $45 billion in sales, 12 per cent of Amazon’s total.
Notably however, it achieved $13.5 billion in operating income, more than Amazon’s flagship retail arm.
In 2016 both Jassy and Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon’s retail business, were given chief executive titles for their respective businesses.
This suggests a long thought out succession plan by Bezos, who is understood to have been grooming the pair for over a decade.