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Why Andy Jassy was picked to fill Jeff Bezos’s big shoes at Amazon

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It was the news that shook the technology world: The founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, was to start his transition away from the day-to-day running of the company and hand the reins to Andy Jassy in October 2021.

Jassy’s long history at Amazon

Amazon

Andy Jassy, newly appointed CEO of Amazon

An Amazon guy through and through, Jassy is a nontechnical but detailed and highly competitive executive, seldom resisting a jab at his leading competitors—especially Oracle founder Larry Ellison. Within Amazon, he has been widely known to have almost complete autonomy over Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing division he has led to being a $40 billion business in its own right.

As his boss and mentor Bezos wrote in a note to staff, “Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”

Jassy, a die-hard fan of New York sports teams and Dave Matthews Band, was one of Bezos’s first hires after taking the e-commerce company public in 1997. He was plucked straight out of Harvard Business School to become a marketing manager, later becoming vice president for web services, which he helped lead to become its own business unit in 2006 when it started selling access to virtual machines with the Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) product.

Despite his high standing in Amazon and his sizable personal wealth, the 53-year-old Jassy keeps a fairly low public profile. He seldom tweets, and when he does give interviews, they tend to be fairly anodyne. That being said, he can be outspoken on social issues, criticizing former President Donald Trump on multiple occasions and strongly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. He is well respected by both his peers and rivals across the technology industry.

“It’s not unexpected to see Jeff Bezos begin the process of handing over leadership of Amazon to Andy Jassy. Although Jeff will still be involved with Amazon, Andy Jassy is a good choice to become CEO,” said Ed Anderson, a Gartner analyst. “Beyond its e-commerce strengths, Amazon is fundamentally a technology-driven company. Andy Jassy, as much as anyone in the industry, knows how to apply technology to transform and grow businesses.”

Jassy “is not only a visionary leader. He is a strong operator, … and he has got a great track record of developing multiple things and businesses within Amazon, not the least of which is AWS, which is arguably the most profitable, important technology company in the world,” said Amazon CFO Brian Olsavsky.

Jeff Wilke, former CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, was long pegged to take over for Bezos, before surprisingly opting to retire this year, opening the door for the cloud guy to take the top seat. Dave Clark eventually took over as retail chief last year.

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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