The end of the Bezos era at Amazon

From the New York Times’ “Jeff Bezos to Step Down as Amazon C.E.O.” posted Tuesday afternoon:

amazon jeff bezos apple steve jobsJeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and chief executive, will hand over the reins of the e-commerce giant this summer and transition into the role of executive chairman, the company announced Tuesday.

Andy Jassy, the chief executive of Amazon’s cloud computing division, will be promoted to run all of Amazon.

Mr. Bezos had stepped back from much of the day-to-day business over several years, though the pandemic pulled him back in last spring.

My take: Jassy has big shoes to fill. Bezos will be lucky to get a successor as good as Steve Jobs’.

9 Comments

  1. David Emery said:
    With the Cloud guy taking over, that makes it pretty clear “Amazon is a computing company that happens to sell and deliver stuff.”

    3
    February 2, 2021
  2. From friend-of-the-blog Tim Bajarin:

    I think Bezos becomes more strategically important to Amazon. His interests were divided given his space projects, Washington Post and charities.

    His decision is to spend more of his time on innovation, not being drug down by day-to-day operations again.

    I see this more as a strategic move that frees him up to go back to innovating around Amazon platforms and not stepping back. In fact, I think he will have even more impact on Amazon going forward, not less.

    Jassy is smart and an operational guy, much like Tim Cook Was. He knows Amazon the best, as well as AWS and like Cook, was the most qualified to take over.

    The parallels between Jobs and Cook and Bezos and Jassy are spot on. Time will tell if he is Bezos Tim Cook, but signs point in that direction.

    3
    February 2, 2021
    • Gregg Thurman said:
      Interesting observation. Completely different than IBM’s experiment with a sales/marketing guy as CEO (much like Apple’s experiment with Scully and MSFT’s experiment with Ballmer).

      All three (four if you include Amazon) are now being led by operations/tech guys.

      Looking back at my own firm, it’s failure can be traced back to me (a sales guy) and my “right” hand man (also a sales guy). Neither of us knew how to manage electronics/software development, but we had great ideas for new products.

      3
      February 2, 2021
      • David Emery said:
        Observing both the company I worked for, which failed in large part because they didn’t have a competent COO, and the companies I’ve observed that failed due to inability to deliver, I’m not sure which skill is more important in a tech company.

        Certainly both skills are -necessary for success-, as as product conception and marketing.

        I’m inclined to believe that ‘operations’ is most important, a good VP of engineering -sufficiently empowered-, should be able to develop and deliver products. But of course, neither skill sets grow on trees, nor do companies have very good track record in developing them.

        The other thing I observe about my company (which ultimately failed) was that the CEO, COO and VP Engineering -must understand- the business they’re in. For a period, my company was run by a guy who had no understanding of the defense business. That was catastrophic. He was hired mostly because the outside investors wanted someone with an MBA (presumably, someone who spoke their own language.) Now there have been a few companies where the CFO successfully transitioned to CEO, but overall that would NEVER be my recommendation. (And if I worked for a company where the CFO took over the whole shebang, I’d probably start looking for another job. )

        1
        February 2, 2021
        • David Emery said:
          If you want a poster child for what can go wrong when bean-counters run a technology company, look at Boeing! It’s not that the CFO per-se took over the company, but rather the people who ran that company were thinking like CFOs rather than COOs or Engineering. I was disappointed, but not surprised to watch Boeing fail. I watched the guy they recently fired as CEO when he was the Boeing PM on the project I supported on the Government side. It was all about the money with him at the end of the day, he had no real interest in what it took to get the product to work. Given his background as an aerospace engineer, that was a big disappointment.

          2
          February 2, 2021
      • S Lawton said:
        Andy Jassy was Bezos first shadow and has been running AWS, the top cloud company, for years. Amazon is in good hands.

        1
        February 2, 2021
  3. Gregg Thurman said:
    Well now that we know what to look for in a CEO, it should be easier to recognize upcoming Companies.

    There is one exception to the above that was very successful, Lee Iococca. He brought organization to a company (Chrysler) that had none, then convinced America to buy its cars. But then, maybe he was really a product guy.

    2
    February 2, 2021
  4. Michael Goldfeder said:
    While Bezos wanted to spend more time with his space aspirations and other assorted endeavors, no doubt the zoom calls with Congress grilling him and his business practices factored into his decision too. He seemed so disinterested in all of their inquiries.

    1
    February 2, 2021

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