Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO of the e-commerce giant, the company said in a surprise announcement on Tuesday.
Bezos will transition to a role as Amazon’s executive chairman of the board during the company’s third fiscal quarter. The company did not provide an exact date for the change.
Andy Jassy, currently the CEO of Amazon’s highly profitable cloud computing wing, will replace Bezos as CEO. He started in Amazon’s marketing department in 1997.
Bezos touted Amazon’s innovations in a statement detailing the reason for his exit.
Amazon shares were flat in after-hours trading following the announcement.
Amazon announced Bezos’ impending departure alongside its fourth-quarter earnings results. The company generated a record $386.1 billion in revenue in fiscal 2020 as homebound shoppers turned to digital options during the coronavirus pandemic. Sales were up 38% compared to 2019.
Bezos is the world’s richest man, with a personal net worth of $196.5 billion, according to Forbes. Aside from his work with Amazon, Bezos is the founder of Blue Origin, a private space exploration firm.
A former executive at D.E. Shaw, an investment and technology development firm, Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 after reading about the internet’s explosive growth rate. Bezos began exploring ways to build a digitally focused business to capitalize on the trend.
“It was a wake-up call,” Bezos told Time Magazine in 1999. “I started thinking, O.K., what kind of business opportunity might there be here?”
Bezos relocated to Seattle and launched the first Amazon website in 1995. Originally, the site functioned as a digital book marketplace but quickly expanded into other segments. Amazon went public in 1997 and turned its first full-year profit in 2003.
Under Bezos’ watch, Amazon acquired grocery store chain Whole Foods and smart home company Ring. The company also launched Amazon Prime, its subscription plan that offers a bundle of services, including one-day shipping and the Prime Video streaming platform.
Amazon is one of the world’s most valuable companies, with a market capitalization of $1.7 trillion as of this week. Bezos remains Amazon’s largest individual shareholder.