Opinion: Jeff Bezos’ departure won’t change much at Amazon – yet


It’s time for Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos to take his turn as founder / lead statesman – like the Wizard of Oz, often invisible but with seemingly omnipotent control – while the boss of Amazon’s cloud computing branch takes the lead.

The change at the top won’t change much at Amazon AMZN,
+ 1.11%,
but could affect the most crucial choice the business faces: whether Amazon Web Services and Amazon.com remain under the same roof.

While Bezos is often compared with Apple Inc. AAPL,
+ 0.63%
co-founder Steve Jobs, his departure from the role of CEO is more like the passing of the baton of tech CEO legends like Bill Gates of Microsoft Corp. MSFT,
and Larry Page of Alphabet Inc. GOOG,
+ 1.38%

+ 1.38%.
Bezos is stepping down as CEO as the company hits new records, but will remain chairman of the e-commerce giant he founded at the start of the dot-com bubble.

Just as Page handed over the reins to the head of his most profitable division, Sundar Pichai – first as CEO of Google, then Alphabet – Bezos named Andy Jassy of the company’s biggest profit generator, Amazon. Web Services. Responding to his post-CEO ambitions, Bezos on Tuesday looked more like Gates, who went on to build one of the largest nonprofits in the world.

“I’ve never had more energy, and it’s not about retiring,” Bezos said in an email to employees detailing plans for the nonprofit Bezos Earth Fund. , rocket construction at Blue Origin and its Washington Post property. “I am very passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”

At Amazon, CFO Brian Olsavsky said Bezos would be involved in what Amazon calls “one-way door issues” – big strategic decisions, such as acquiring Whole Foods.

“Jeff has always been involved in this area, and this is where we’ll keep his time focused,” Olsavsky told analysts during the company’s earnings call.

It really won’t mean a lot of change externally, and possibly internally as well. These types of big changes seem to be the things Bezos has long focused on, while leaving the day-to-day management to the lieutenants. In recent years, Bezos has been less of the public face of Amazon, amid so much attention to his growing wealth, the commercial race for space, and his recent status as a media mogul. He doesn’t participate in the quarterly earnings calls with Wall Street and instead writes an annual letter to shareholders and chairs Amazon’s annual general meeting. More recently, his public appearances have ranged from elite tech conferences, when they were still a thing, to Congressional testimony in recent Congressional antitrust hearings.

“Bezos is not as visible as some CEOs, it will be interesting to see if Andy takes a different tack,” said Ed Anderson, an analyst at Gartner Inc. “Andy has been the visible spokesperson for AWS. It will be interesting to see if he takes that with Amazon as well. ”

Also read: Future CEO Andy Jassy Helped Build Amazon’s Cloud

Jassy will also have to prove that he is capable of running more than just AWS, which is a staple of Amazon but is far from close to the reach of the company as a whole.

“They’re in digital commerce, they’re a grocery store, they’re a trucking company, they’re in transportation, warehousing, and manufacturing. They have a lot of people in their ecosystem, a lot of blue collar workers, they were the biggest employer in the pandemic. There’s a lot going on, ”said Daniel Newman, senior analyst at Futurum Research.

“Andy was literally prototyping his ability to run Amazon, through his work at AWS,” Neman added.

AWS CEO Andy Jassy speaks at the AWS re: Invent 2019 conference in Las Vegas.

Associated press

One conundrum Jassy might run into when he takes over as CEO later this year is the biggest question around AWS: Will it be part of Amazon? Jassy has been working on AWS from the start and has been its most vocal proponent, so it seems unlikely that he would choose to separate him from the company he now runs.

Scott Galloway, a professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University, predicted in a recent book that Amazon could part ways with the company, possibly to avoid any antitrust action the government might take with Big Tech over the next year. On Twitter, Galloway was asked about his prediction on Tuesday, and said Jassy’s promotion likely reduced the chances of that happening, while also highlighting Bezos’ accomplishments.

“I think [a potential AWS spinoff] is one of the issues that Andy will face in one form or another, ”said Anderson of Gartner. “It’s one of those things that has developed over time. There are good arguments to be made both ways. They currently operate as fairly independent organizations. “

Bezos will surely have a say in this decision, just as Gates had a say in the direction of Microsoft until last year. It may seem unthinkable for investors to imagine Amazon without visionary Bezos, but he could remain executive chairman for years, if not decades, as Gates has proven.

Investors should hope that Jassy looks more like current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella than Gates’ immediate successor Steve Ballmer, who struggled to bring Microsoft into the mobile age. As Jassy tries to bring Amazon into its next era, Bezos will always be there to ensure its success.

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