Jeff Bezos is to step down as chief executive of Amazon, the e-commerce giant that he founded in his garage nearly 30 years ago.
The Amazon founder will become executive chairman, a move he said would give him “time and energy” to focus on his other ventures.
Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man, will be replaced by Andy Jassy, who currently leads Amazon’s cloud computing business.
The change will take place in the second half of 2021, the company said.
In a letter to Amazon staff on February 2, Jeff Bezos said: “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”
“As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives 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.”
“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,” he added.
Jeff Bezos, 57, has led Amazon since its start as an online bookshop in 1994. The firm now employs 1.3 million people globally, and saw its already explosive growth skyrocket last year, as the pandemic prompted a surge in online shopping.
Amazon reported $386 billion in sales in 2020, up 38% from 2019. Profits almost doubled, rising to $21.3 billion.
In announcing the plans, Jeff Bezos said he would continue to focus on new products and early initiatives.
“When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention,” he said.
“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
The move comes as Jeff Bezos has taken on an increasingly public profile.
He has endured a public divorce, become a target for labor and inequality activists, and got involved in other businesses, such as space exploration firm Blue Origin and the Washington Post newspaper.
Amazon also faces increasing scrutiny from regulators, who have questioned its monopoly power. And its dominance in cloud computing is being increasingly challenged by other tech firms, such as Microsoft and Alphabet, parent company of Google and YouTube.
Jeff Bezos’s decision to hand over the day-to-day operation of the company came as a surprise. But investors appeared unfazed, with little change in the company’s share price in after-hours trade.
Andy Jassy, a Harvard graduate, has been with Amazon since 1997 and helped develop Amazon Web Services, which has long been seen as the profit engine of the company.