After 27 years, Jeff Bezos will be stepping down as Amazon CEO. Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), will be promoted to Amazon CEO later this year while Bezos will remain Executive Chair of the Board.
Jeffrey Preston Jorgensen was born the son of a 16-year-old mom and never knew his biological father, who worked in a circus. Biographer Brad Stone suggests that his unusual childhood might have contributed to his success, “It's of course unknowable whether or not the unusual circumstances of his birth helped to create that entrepreneurial mix of intelligence, ambition, and a relentless need to prove himself. Two other technology icons, Steve Jobs and Larry Ellison, were adopted, and the experience may have given each a powerful motivation to succeed,” wrote Stone. Bezos has a healthy relationship with his mom, but not his biological father who left when he was 4 years old.
Bezos incorporated Amazon in 1994 after leaving a cushy job at a hedge fund. Ever since, the company has had a relentless focus on growth. He settled on the name "Amazon" because he felt it was a place that was exotic and different, similar to the internet itself. For over 25 years, Amazon has still never actually been profitable. According to Statista, the company's revenue has increased to $100 billion per year, but its net income has stayed very close to zero. Every extra dollar they re-invest into the company.
Today, Amazon is worth over $1.69 trillion, and stands as one of the Big 5 tech companies in the U.S., focusing on e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.
Yesterday, Bezos wrote this letter to all Amazon employees saying, "Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish." He even offered some specifics on what's next for the world's second richest man, "When you have a responsibility like [the CEO of Amazon], it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Executive Chair I will stay engaged... but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions," said Bezos to his employees, "I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have." Bezos ended his letter, "Keep inventing, and don’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. This is Day 1."
Bezos founded Blue Origin in 2000, and often refers to the project as his "most important work." His goal is to make space travel cheap, frequent, fun and accessible through reusable launch systems, similar to Musk's strategy with the reusable Falcon 9 rockets invented by SpaceX.
Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), is being rewarded for doing a fantastic job raising AWS from a tiny side business to an enterprise giant processing $50 billion per year. The company appears in good hands.
Bezos has had a tumultuous last few years. In February 2019, nude photos were reportedly leaked when his girlfriend Lauren Sanchez voluntarily sent them to her brother, Michael Sanchez, who then received $200,000 for sending the intimates texts and nudes to the National Enquirer and giving them exclusive rights. The saga finally ended when Bezos ousted the National Enquirer by writing a post No thank you, Mr, Pecker to expose the blackmail scheme.
A year later, in January 2020, it was reported that Bezos had his mobile phone hacked in 2018 after receiving a strange WhatsApp message from the personal account of the crown prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, who is responsible for the torture and murder of the Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018. Bezos and Khashoggi both appear to have been targeted by the crown price in 2018.
Forbes still pegs Bezos' net worth at $184.6 billion, with Elon Musk trailing at $177.2 billion, but other sources like Bloomberg have Musk as the world's richest man, with the discrepancy stemming coming from the unclear valuation of SpaceX, a private company. According to Bloomberg, Elon Musk has a net worth of $208 billion, and Bezos stands in second at $197 billion.
Shares of Amazon (AMZN) were up about 1% in extended trading Tuesday on the back of the earnings report and C-suite restructure. AMZN posted quarterly net sales of $125.6 billion, up 44% from the same period a year ago, and has gained about 4% so far in 2021 and 70% in the last 12 months.
Watch my latest IGTV video where I discuss what this means for Amazon and what's next for their new Chairman, Jeff Bezos.