Changes at Amazon – Bezos Steps Down and a Company Holds It’s Breath

Jeff Bezos is stepping down in Amazon - Not bad for a company that started in a garage and only took $386bn last year.
Jeff Bezos is stepping down in Amazon - Not bad for a company that started in a garage and only took $386bn last year.

News broke last night with the announcement that founder and CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos is stepping down to become chairman.

Shares in Amazon who took a whopping $386.1bn in 2020 remained flat as Bezos told employees that he intends to hand over the reigns of the business he created in the 1990’s to Andy Jassy, currently CEO of Amazon Web Services.

Marc Ford

Marc Ford

Editor-in-Chief, Business Media Owner, Business Coach, Author and Keynote Speaker. Works with over 100's of small businesses every year. Trusted by BBC TV and Radio, Channel 4, Mercedes Benz, Hitachi Capital on business matters.

Bezos said the shift would give him more time to concentrate on his other passions, including the fight against climate change, and that the company’s latest results demonstrated it was the right time to make the transition. And looking at the figures, he’s probably right. Amazon recorded total sales of $125.6bn (£92bn) between October and December 2020 – a period that took in its annual Prime Day – delayed from July for the first time – Black Friday and holiday season business

Do you really ever want to be 'that' person? Andy Jassy follows in the footsteps of the 'next one' in-line...a bit like David Moyes at Manchester United

But Do You Want To Be ‘That’ Person?

If there was ever a worry, and to be fair this relates as much to smaller businesses as it does big worldwide pioneers, who would want the job of being the successor or the ‘chosen one’ when it comes to a business moving forward?

We’ve often seen that the ‘next in-line’ or the ‘chosen one’ have failed miserably. It’s easy to point at the fact that history has not been kind. Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United created and built a legacy that dominated World Football for years, starting at what conceivably was the clubs lowest ever base since it was formed. Through autobiographies, news reports and interviews, it would be fair to say he told the board when he decided to step down and enjoy his retirement, that then Everton Manager, David Moyes was the man for the job.

It quickly became evident he was not. The success the club had endured, unraveled and then followed a succession of mangers who also couldn’t get close to the ‘heady heights’ it had enjoyed.

It could be argued that when Tim Cook took over from Steve Jobs that this enforced succession, (Steve Jobs passed away in 2011), hasn’t set the world on fire as it had before him. Numbers haven’t looked all that rosey and the innovation that the business saw hasn’t been as inspirational so that competitors are falling over themselves to do what Apple are doing.

5 Things You Need to Know About Andy Jassy

Jassy has been at Amazon for about as long as Bezos has, for 24 years to be exact.

Jassy joined Amazon in 1997, the same year the company went public. The 53-year-old built AWS from the ground up within the past two decades and became CEO of the cloud platform in 2016. Analyst Dan Ives described him to Insider in a previous interview as “one of the most powerful leaders not just within the cloud and tech sector but in the world of business.”

Jassy is a close confidant of Bezos

Jassy served as a so-called “shadow” advisor to Bezos at one point, joining the chief executive in high-level meetings. In his letter to staff announcing his exit as CEO, Bezos said Jassy will be an “outstanding leader.”

Jassy is one of the highest-paid executives at Amazon

He has raked in a total of more than $20 million within the past three years. In 2016 alone, Jassy earned over $36 million while Bezos made about $1.7 million in total, according to CNBC.

He’s outspoken in regard to political and social issues

Jassy has spoken out against the police killings of Black Americans and in favour of court decisions to make it illegal to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ community, among other calls to action. Jassy has also spoken out against former President Donald Trump’s contempt for Amazon and helmed AWS amid the company’s decision to ban Parler, a social-media app popular among the far-right.

Jassy was reportedly considered for the role of CEO at Microsoft and Uber

Ex-Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer approached Jassy at one point about replacing him as chief executive of the company, a person familiar with the discussion told Business Insider’s Ashley Stewart and Eugene Kim. There was also a rumour that Jassy was considered to take over as Uber CEO after Travis Kalanick stepped down in 2017. This can’t be substantiated. 

Pedigree and a Tough Act to Follow

As you can see Jassy has all the pedigree that you would want to take over the helm, (unlike Moyes), but let’s not underestimate the challenge ahead of him. The pandemic has sped up many elements of things switching to Amazon and it has taken them years to get where they want to be, the issue is that things can be copied and begin to limit growth.

Online shopping has been huge in 2020 and arguably was getting bigger in the years proceeding it. When it comes to retail there are little cracks beginning to appear and it’s how they handle them will dictate how people view the new CEO’s success or failure. As 2021 will come to an end and 2022 begins we may see a ‘normalising’ of shopping habits and things emerging such as buying locally or even nationalistically as Brexit gets it’s untidy and messy claws into the Uk and Europe. Small businesses will want a better deal from their platform and there’s always the prospect of Governments actually challenging them over how much tax is paid to the countries they do so well from.

Yes Amazon is global, but the next twelve months should provide valuable lessons in how a small business grows and can be built, with eagle eyed owners looking for the opportunities they may or may not create for them.

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Business Coach, Author and Consultant. Has worked with BBC TV and Radio and Channel 4 on business matters. Trusted by Mercedes Benz, Hitachi Capital. Keynote speaker.