Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO during the third quarter, the company announced Tuesday—a surprise announcement after a blockbuster year in which Amazon’s stock soared 67% thanks to massive shifts in the retail landscape during the coronavirus pandemic.
- Bezos will transition into the role of executive chair of Amazon’s board and will be replaced as CEO by Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy, the company said.
- In a Tuesday letter to employees, Bezos said he plans to focus on “the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions.”
- The announcement came as Amazon reported record sales in the fourth quarter of $125.5 billion, the first time that the company pulled in more than $100 billion in revenue in a single quarter, and profits of $7.2 billion, more than double the previous year.
- Shares were flat in after-hours trading on Tuesday.
$196.4 billion. That’s how much Bezos is worth, according to Forbes, in large part thanks to his 11.1% stake in Amazon, which as of Tuesday was worth more than $1.6 trillion.
Bezos started the company that would revolutionize e-commerce as an online bookseller in his Seattle garage in 1994. Some 30 years later Amazon’s businesses span cloud storage, video streaming, groceries and more. Bezos made headlines in 2019 with his high-profile divorce from MacKenzie Scott, his wife of 25 years, in which he agreed to give her a quarter of his Amazon stake. In February 2020, he pledged $10 billion—almost 10% of his net worth at the time—to fight climate change through an initiative called the Bezos Earth Fund. Bezos also owns The Washington Post and the space rocket developer Blue Origin.
“If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn,” Bezos said in a statement. “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.”