Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon’s CEO on Monday, 27 years after the company’s founding. Moving into his role is Andy Jassy, who joined the company in 1997 as a bookseller but has since risen through the ranks to head the company’s successful cloud services division, Amazon Web Services (AWS). He inherits the e-commerce behemoth at a “critical time” as the company faces “a growing threat of regulatory action to control its dominance of markets across the world,” explain Rupert Neate Wealth and Sarah Butler at The Guardian. Is Jassy up for the challenge?
He certainly has a good track record, having conceived of and overseen AWS, which is now Amazon’s most reliable source of profit, bringing in $13.5 billion in revenue in the first 3 months of 2021. He also apparently was the mastermind behind Amazon’s move into the world of CDs and DVDs in the late ’90s. He is “more of a continuity candidate than a revolutionary,” The Economist says, adding that Jassy is “detail-oriented and more than a little nerdy — much like Mr. Bezos in his first couple of decades in charge.”
But he’ll face a number of tests. Does the company invest further in expanding abroad despite the risk of increased competition? Will Jassy’s cloud-computing chops translate in the world of retail? Can he help the company keep growing in America, where customers “are beginning to grumble that Amazon is becoming a flea market, with ever shoddier products juiced with faked reviews”? And how will he handle the growing backlash against the company’s treatment of warehouse workers, its tax sidestepping, and its questionable business practices, which have drawn the ire of antitrust hawks?
“Mr Jassy may … be somewhat humbler than Mr Bezos in confronting Amazon’s problems,” writes Brad Stone in his book Amazon Unbound. But if he needs some guidance, Bezos won’t be far. He’ll stay on as executive chairman and could easily do some “back-seat driving” as Jassy, who has been known within Amazon as Bezos’ “shadow,” gets his footing.