Some of the world's most influential people have bid farewell to Amazon's Jeff Bezos, who announced that he would be stepping down as CEO to become executive chairman later this year. Andy Jassy, the current CEO of Amazon Web Services, will be replacing him in the third quarter, allowing the Amazon founder to focus on Blue Origin, climate change initiatives, and other projects. In this special feature, we take a look at Bezos' life, his contributions, and what the future holds with Jassy at the helm.
Note: Inside Amazon writer Michael Tant and Inside Business writer Liam Gill hosted an emergency live broadcast today, where they dissected the implications that Bezos' move has for Amazon's future, what his legacy and impact have been on the company, and where he may focus his attention in the coming months.
Bezos: A timeline
1964: Jeff Bezos is born in Albuquerque to a teenage mother, Jacklyn Gise Jorgensen, and Chicago-born father Ted Jorgensen. Jacklyn marries her second husband, Cuban immigrant Miguel "Mike" Bezos, four years later.
1986: Bezos graduates with a Bachelor of Science degrees in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton.
1994: After working at D.E. Shaw, a New York City hedge fund, Bezos founds Amazon.com with a $300K investment from his parents. He runs the company out of his garage and writes his business plan during a cross-country drive.
1997: Bezos raises $54M through Amazon's IPO at $18/share, becoming a millionaire at age 33. This is also when Jassy joins Amazon. Amazon starts selling CDs & DVDs a year later.
2000: Bezos founds Blue Origin, his human spaceflight startup, after being fascinated with space travel as a child. He later says the goal is to enable "anybody to go into space."
2002: Stagnating revenues forces Bezos to borrow $2B from banks, close distribution centers, and lay off nearly 15% of the workforce. He launches Amazon Web Services, which compiles data from website traffic and weather channels.
2007: Amazon launches its $399 Kindle, which some argue is too high priced. Three years later, Amazon sells more e-books than hardcovers.
2010: Bezos' wealth rises to $12.6B, moving him up the ranks to 43rd wealthiest person.
2013: Bezos acquires The Washington Post for $250M in cash, calling it "uncharted terrain." Later that year, Amazon is given the title of largest online shopping retailer worldwide.
2014: Amazon acquires Twitch for $970M. Twitch generated $1.54B in revenue in 2019.
2015: Amazon launches Echo for the public. Its market share in the U.S. is 70%.
2016: Bezos criticizes presidential candidate Donald Trump. He also reveals that he has been selling ~$1B in Amazon stock per year to fund Blue Origin. In October, he becomes the world's third-richest person with $66.5B in wealth.
2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7B. Bezos' net worth surpasses $100B, making him the wealthiest person in the world over Bill Gates. The CEO announces plans for an unnamed healthcare venture.
2020: Amazon surpasses a $1T market cap in January.
2021: The company is worth more than $1.6T. Bezos is now the world's second-wealthiest person, after Elon Musk.
About Andy Jassy
- Jassy was widely believed to be Bezos' successor after frontrunner Jeff Wilke, head of the company's worldwide consumer division, announced his retirement last year.
- Jassy, who has an MBA from Harvard Business School, joined Amazon right after graduation in 1997. He was a marketing manager, among other roles, before starting Amazon Web Services with a team of 57 people in 2003.
- He has long been a member of Amazon's elite leadership group, the "S-team," which communicates directly with Bezos. In 2016, Jassy was promoted to AWS' CEO from senior VP. He earned $36.6M that year, which included a $175K base salary and stock.
- Over the years, Jassy has criticized former President Trump for allegedly interfering in the bidding process for the Pentagon's JEDI cloud contract, which ultimately went to Microsoft over AWS. He has also defended Amazon's development of facial recognition services and tweeted in support of police accountability following the death of Breonna Taylor.
- Jassy's estimated net worth was $377M as of November. He and his wife, Elana Rochelle Caplan, have two children.
- Bezos said he plans to remain engaged in new Amazon projects and products, along with separate efforts. Departing as CEO will give him more time to focus on the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and the Amazon Day 1 Fund, he noted.
- In a letter to employees, Bezos said being CEO is "consuming" and a "deep responsibility." He emphasized that he is not retiring and remains "super passionate about the impact" that his other organizations will have.
- Many reports have noted that Jassy's appointment sends the signal that Amazon's future lies in the cloud and its web services. Amazon has yet to announce a successor to lead AWS.
Also, here’s a couple of resources that we hope you’ll really enjoy:
- Jeff Bezos’ shareholder letters provide a sneak peek into his mind during the Amazon Blitzscaling Years (1997-2005). We have written a helpful analysis of each, which you can download along with the letters as a complete pdf here.
- Here’s a dashboard with infographics showing the key metrics of Amazon’s business.