Jeff Bezos Leaves Enduring Legacy As He Steps Away As Amazon CEO

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Andy Jassy is taking the reins from Jeff Bezos as CEO of Amazon. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as the company's CEO on Monday, the company's 27th birthday. Barron'sJeff Bezos Steps Down as CEO on Monday. Here’s What It Means for Amazon’s Stock.

The stunning rise of Amazon has made Jeff Bezos into one of the world's richest people.

As he prepares to blast off into a new career stage, Jeff Bezos leaves an enduring legacy after transforming Amazon from a modest online bookseller into one of the world's most powerful corporations.

Bezos, 57, was set to hand over the job of Amazon chief executive on Monday to Andy Jassy and turn his attention to his private space exploration firm, philanthropy and other endeavors. He will retain a key role, however, as executive chair at the technology and e-commerce colossus he founded 27 years ago.

The transition comes after a spectacular streak for Amazon, which has drawn attention for its innovations.

But the firm has also been vilified over business practices that have crushed competitors and raised concerns over treatment of a workforce of more than one million.

"Bezos has been a transformational leader... in book selling, the retail market, cloud computing and home delivery," said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation.

"He was a pioneer who introduced many of the conveniences that people take for granted, such as going to an online store, ordering something, and having it delivered to your home the next day. The whole e-commerce sector owes many of its innovations to this individual."

In public appearances, Bezos often recounts the early days at Amazon, started in his garage, when he packed up orders himself and drove boxes to the post office.

Today, Amazon has a market value of more than $1.7 trillion. It posted 2020 annual revenues of $386 billion from operations in e-commerce, cloud computing, groceries, artificial intelligence, streaming media and more.

Bezos "had an instinct for the right thing" in finding the next market, said Roger Kay, analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

Kay said Bezos deftly transitioned from books to other merchandise to an online marketplace, and successfully built the cloud infrastructure for the company which became the highly profitable Amazon Web Services.

Amazon outlasted its rivals by forgoing profits in its early years "and reinvesting everything into expanding," Kay said.

"If you look at the trajectory now, it was all logical," Kay added. "You can say Bezos has been one of the best business architects of his time."

Bob O'Donnell of Technalysis Research said Bezos "wasn't the first or the only one, but he took the concept (of e-commerce) and worked to perfect it."

Amazon was able to outdo rivals because Bezos "recognized the need to build infrastructure," including the vast network of warehouses, trucks, planes and other logistics for the business, O'Donnell said.

"A lot of other companies didn't want to spend money on the messy behind-the-scenes work."

The stunning rise of Amazon has made Bezos into one of the world's richest people, with a net worth close to $200 billion, even after a divorce settlement which gave part of his stake to his ex-wife MacKenzie Scott.

Bezos will step away from day-to-day Amazon management to spend more time on projects including his space firm Blue Origin -- which is set to take him into space later this month.

He owns the Washington Post newspaper and has devoted time and funds to efforts to fight climate change, while also facing criticism after recent reports that he paid no income tax at all some years.

His departure leaves questions about the future of Amazon as it faces a torrent of regulatory scrutiny and criticism from activists.

US lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it easier to break up Amazon, amid concerns that a handful of Big Tech firms have become too dominant, hurting competition in a way that eventually harms consumers.

Amazon was well-positioned during the coronavirus pandemic with its fast delivery of goods and groceries, and boosted its US workforce to more than 800,000.

While the company has boasted of its $15 minimum wage and other benefits, critics say its relentless focus on efficiency and worker surveillance has treated employees like machines.

The Teamsters union recently launched a campaign to organize Amazon employees, claiming its workers "face dehumanizing, unsafe and low-pay jobs, with high turnover and no voice at work."

Bezos appeared to respond to worker concerns earlier this year when he called for a "better vision" for employees after a bruising battle over a unionization vote in Alabama, which ultimately failed.

He laid out a new goal for the company to be "Earth's best employer and Earth's safest place to work," in his final letter as chief executive.

Yet Amazon is likely to face challenges ahead that will make it difficult to keep its trajectory.

"The backlash against this sector probably will result in stronger government oversight of technology companies," said West.

Kay said Amazon might become "a victim of its own success" and be forced to break up into two or more firms.

Still, he said that "each of those entities would thrive in its own market; I can easily imagine the sum of the parts being greater than the whole, so it might not hurt shareholders." 

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Amazon CEO Andrew Jassy to receive $200 million in stock: SEC filing

Business Insider 04 July, 2021 - 12:00am

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Amazon on Friday filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) detailing Jassy's newest award of 61,000 shares. Amazon stock ended the week at $3,510.98 per share, placing Jassy's new grant just above $214 million. 

Jassy's total Amazon holdings before the award were worth about $270 million, according to an Insider analysis of his SEC filings.

He owned about 0.02% of Amazon stock, according to FactSet data reported by CNBC on Friday. 

Bezos, who plans to step down as chief executive on July 5, holds about 10.3% of the company and more than 50 million shares, according to Markets Insider

Bezos' Amazon stake totaled about $170 billion in May. He sold about $10 billion in stock in 2020. 

Wall Street analysts' average price target for Amazon's stock was $4,241.33, about 21% above Friday's close, according to Yahoo Finance.

The stock ticked up 2% in after-hours trading on Friday. 

Jassy sold about 460,000 Amazon shares over the last 15 years, according to Insider's analysis. If he hadn't sold those shares, his holdings would have been worth about $1.8 billion in February, it said.

Andy Jassy steps out of the shadows – so who exactly is Amazon’s new CEO?

The Guardian 04 July, 2021 - 12:00am

During a rambunctious game of “broomball” – a cross between lacrosse and football that another Amazon executive invented and is still overly competitively played at the company – Jassy, then a fresh-faced recruit from Harvard Business School, accidentally hit Bezos over the head with a kayak paddle.

Bezos, 57, forgave Jassy, 53, and quickly (and repeatedly) promoted the New Yorker, who he recognised as almost as competitively driven as he was.

On Monday, Jassy, who is currently chief executive of Amazon’s fast-growing cloud services division Amazon Web Services (AWS), will be promoted again to be installed as Amazon’s second-ever chief executive, with Bezos becoming executive chair of the board as he steps away from day-to-day control of the business. The handover comes on the 27th anniversary of Amazon’s official founding on 5 July 1994.

Jassy’s elevation to the top job is taking place at a critical time for Amazon, which is facing a growing threat of regulatory action to control its dominance of markets across the world. And, as Bezos takes on fresh challenges – including taking a flight into space on his Blue Origin company’s rocket later this month – Jassy will be tasked with retaining the company’s “day one” startup philosophy at what is now one of the world’s largest companies, employing more than 1.3 million people.

“He will have to balance trying to be everywhere and everything to everyone with the limits to that,” says Natalie Berg, a retail analyst and co-author of Amazon: How the World’s Most Relentless Retailer Will Continue to Revolutionise Commerce. “There is a risk of going from disruptor to disrupted. There is a challenge to innovate at scale and maintain agility and culture that’s allowed them to be as nimble as they have been. There are a lot of other disruptive businesses coming in. Fifteen-minute supermarkets like Weezy make Amazon look like a laggard.”

Coronavirus pandemic lockdowns helped Amazon’s sales soar by 38% in 2020 to a record $386bn, and $23bn of “operating income” (profit, to you and me). In the UK, Amazon’s sales jumped by 51% last year to a record $26.5bn (£19.5bn) as people trapped at home because of the lockdowns turned to the internet retail company to buy items unavailable in closed high street stores and to keep them entertained at home.

A huge increase in demand for cloud storage – from big streaming companies such as Netflix and Spotify and government departments including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and large parts of the UK civil service – has driven massive increases in revenue and profit at AWS, which Jassy runs.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said Jassy’s biggest challenge will be handling that scrutiny. “The retail division got so frenzied to provide a remarkable [service] for customers, it probably did take advantage of employees. That stuff will have to be cleaned up,” Pachter says. “Jassy is going to have to become a spokesperson and to be the guy who testifies before Congress.”

Jassy will have to do that, and run the company, with Bezos sitting on his shoulder as chair. “Jassy will run the meetings but anything that requires a strategic decision and a lot of money, they will take it to Bezos,” Pachter says.

On the plus side, Jassy has the trust of Bezos after running the AWS division, which brought in $13.5bn of revenue in the first three months of 2021, a 32% increase on the same period a year earlier. AWS is also Amazon’s most reliable source of profit. Despite AWS representing 12% of total first-quarter revenue, the division made $4.2bn in operating income, which works out at 46% of Amazon’s total profit.

Amazon’s move into cloud storage was Jassy’s idea. In the early 2000s, when Jassy was Bezos’s chief of staff, he was tasked with finding out why engineers were taking so long to develop new applications. He discovered the delays were being caused by the difficulty engineers were having sharing large amounts of data with one another, and the idea for internal cloud storage was born.

Jassy pitched the idea of extending the internal network to other companies at a corporate executive retreat in 2003 and Bezos gave the go-ahead. “I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict it would grow as big or as fast as it has,” Jassy has said of AWS.

It was not the first time Jassy has pitched a pivotal business development idea. Years earlier, it had been his idea to expand Amazon from purely an online bookshop to CDs and DVDs.

Dan Ives, another analyst at Wedbush, described Jassy as “one of the most powerful leaders, not just within the cloud and tech sector but in the world of business”.

Jassy, who grew up in the affluent town of Scarsdale in New York state and went to Harvard University and Harvard Business School, joined Amazon in 1997 as it prepared to float on the stock market. “I took my last final exam of graduate school the first Friday of May 1997,” Jassy said in an interview with tech site Recode. “I started at Amazon the next Monday, I didn’t know what my job was going to be. I didn’t know what my title was going to be, but it was very important to them that I show up that Monday.” Amazon floated on 15 May 1997.

He had agreed with his wife that they would go out to the west coast for only three years. “In fact, we wrote an agreement on a napkin in a bar, my understanding is the statute of limitations on that napkin has expired,” he said. They live in a 10,000 sq ft 1906 property in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighbourhood; Jassy has converted the basement into a mini sports bar where he watches his favourite east coast sports teams the New York Mets, Giants, and Rangers play. A big sports fan, he is also the minority owner of the Seattle Kraken National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.

For most of his time at Amazon, Jassy’s role was to act as Bezos’s “shadow” and “intellectual sparring partner”. However, he has shown himself more prepared than Bezos to use his platform to speak out on political and societal issues.

1/6 Can't let Breonna Taylor death go with no accountability. We still don't get it in the US. If you don't hold police depts accountable for murdering black people, we will never have justice and change, or be the country we aspire (and claim) to be.

After the death of Breonna Taylor, a black medical worker who was shot and killed by Louisville police officers inside her flat, Jassy tweeted that: “[We] can’t let Breonna Taylor death go with no accountability. We still don’t get it in the US. If you don’t hold police depts accountable for murdering black people, we will never have justice and change, or be the country we aspire (and claim) to be.”

He has also spoken out in favour of greater equality for LGBTQ+ people, and against mass incarceration. “It’s nuts that the US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the imprisoned population,” he also said on Twitter. “And, the racial bias with which this incarceration is happening is awful.”

What's next for Amazon's Bezos? Look at his Instagram

Reuters 04 July, 2021 - 12:00am

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(Reuters) – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said it was time to bust out the tequila.

Standing by the seashore, the celebrity wrestler and film star put his arm around Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Inc’s founder. Bezos, in sunglasses, smiled for a picture and then shared it on the ‘gram. The men had just announced a movie deal for Amazon Studios.

Bezos, 57, is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO on Monday. He’ll remain executive chairman and the company’s biggest shareholder, but his Instagram account shows he has plenty of other interests to occupy his time.

The science fiction fan is planning a joy ride to suborbital space with his best friend and brother, Mark, this month, one recent post said. In another, Bezos is behind the wheel of an electric pickup truck built by Rivian, a startup that Amazon funded, traversing the desert in a cowboy hat to see a rocket capsule land.

The final frontier has long beckoned Bezos, who has poured billions of dollars into his company Blue Origin to promote tourism and infrastructure in space. The venture’s first crewed flight is to embark July 20, less than two weeks after Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic to commence a new epoch of travel beyond earth.

Bezos leaves Amazon’s former cloud computing chief Andy Jassy to run a company that is bigger and more valuable than ever. It’s unclear how Bezos will govern from the sidelines.

Bezos, a hedge fund executive turned garage entrepreneur, long defined Amazon’s culture, through business adages like “customer obsession” and “have backbone; disagree and commit,” as well as curt emails to his team bearing just a question mark https://www.reuters.com/article/us-amazon-com-bezos/with-bezos-out-as-amazon-ceo-is-this-the-end-of-his-ominous-question-mark-emails-idUSKBN2A32Z8.

Neither Amazon nor Bezos responded to a request for comment.

Bezos said in an April letter to investors that he would focus on new initiatives as executive chair and making Amazon a better place to work. That followed employee frustration that surfaced during a failed unionization campaign in Alabama.

His Instagram, though, spotlights his interest in Tinsel Town. Bezos posted about Oscar nods and Golden Globe wins for Amazon Studios, and during his last annual meeting as CEO he talked about re-imagining screen heroes for the 21st century through Amazon’s deal to buy MGM.

(Not featured on his Instagram is a yacht, longer than a football field, which Bezos reportedly owns and which will come with a support yacht and helipad once it’s built, according to Bloomberg News. His partner, Lauren Sanchez, is a helicopter pilot.)

Bezos has also met with public officials to draw attention to his philanthropy. He discussed his climate efforts with French President Emmanuel Macron and gave Washington Governor Jay Inslee a tour of a homeless shelter, his posts show.

He’s had some fun with music stars Katy Perry, Lil Nas X and Lizzo, too.

He posted from the Super Bowl in 2020, “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% @lizzobeeating’s biggest fan.”

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in San Francisco; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Leslie Adler)

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