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New Amazon CEO: Jeff Bezos Stepping Down

CEO Jeff Bezos
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EDITOR NOTE: Jeff Bezos, the second richest person in the world and Amazon founder and CEO, is finally stepping down from the helm of his company. What started off as one of the first online bookstores is now a multi-industry behemoth with the largest market share in the enterprise cloud technology space. That aspect of Amazon’s operation should concern everyone, as Bezos’ replacement, Andy Jassy, head of its cloud platform AWS, is advocating the sale of facial recognition technologies to governments abroad, as he’s defended its sale to local law enforcement. “We've never had any reported misuse,” Jassy said in a 2019 interview, which, of course, doesn’t say anything about the probability of misuse taking place in the future. But whether it's Amazon or another company, there’s no holding back such technologies, nor the State’s use of facial recognition tech for purposes of citizen surveillance. On the financial end of things, as money becomes increasingly digitized, transactional surveillance will become the norm. We’re heading closer to becoming a society in which hyper-surveillance permeates across every action we take--a digital panopticism wherein you can’t see who’s watching nor when you’re being watched. Fortunately, you can still protect your financial privacy from the prying eyes of the government by converting your private holdings to non-CUSIP gold and silver, where none of it can be monitored and all of it remains 100% in your ownership and accessible only by you.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will leave his post later this year, turning the helm over to the company’s top cloud executive, Andy Jassy, according to an announcement Tuesday. Bezos will transition to executive chairman of Amazon’s board.

Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in 1994 and has since morphed the one-time online bookstore into a mega-retailer with global reach in a slew of different categories from gadgets to groceries to streaming. Amazon surpassed a $1 trillion market cap under Bezos’ leadership in January of last year — it’s now worth more than $1.6 trillion.

The company had kept its succession plans quiet, though onlookers speculated that either Jassy or Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, would be Bezos’ eventual successor. In August Amazon announced Wilke will retire in 2021. Jassy, 53, will become CEO in the third quarter.

Jassy joined Amazon in 1997 and has led Amazon’s Web Services cloud team since its inception. AWS continues to drive much of Amazon’s profit.

“I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO,” Bezos said in a letter to employees. “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.”

The news came alongside an earnings report in which Amazon posted its first $100 billion quarter. AWS, under Jassy, reported 28% revenue growth for the fourth quarter. About 52% of Amazon’s operating income was attributed to AWS as of October 2020.

Shares of Amazon were up about 1% in extended trading Tuesday on the back of the earnings report and the C-suite news. The company’s stock has gained about 4% so far in 2021 and is up nearly 70% in the last 12 months.

Amazon’s chief financial officer, Brian Olsavsky, said on a media call that the executive change was decided in consultation with Amazon’s board of directors. He said Bezos will remain very involved and have his fingerprints on lots of different parts of the company. Olsavsky said Jassy is a visionary leader who will bring his own skill set but that Amazon expects a lot of continuity with the transition.

Jassy will need to guide the company through antitrust concerns once he takes the reins. In October, after a 16-month investigation into competitive practices at big tech companies including Amazon, the House Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust concluded that Amazon, AppleFacebook and Google enjoy monopoly power. Amazon is also facing antitrust complaints in the EU.

Rep. Ken Buck, R-Colo., a member of the House Judiciary Committee, said on Twitter shortly after the announcement that he has questions for Jassy, hinting at an early hurdle when Jassy is installed.

Bezos said he will stay engaged in important Amazon projects but will also have more time to focus on the Bezos Earth Fund, his Blue Origin spaceship company, The Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund.

“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” Bezos said in his internal announcement. “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.”

Industry CEOs and Amazon competitors congratulated Bezos and Jassy on the coming transition, with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella calling Jassy’s promotion “well-deserved.”

Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai offered Bezos “best wishes” on his other projects.

Here’s the full letter from Bezos to Amazon employees:

Originally posted on CNBC

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