Amazon announced that founder Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO in the third quarter of 2021, moving into a new role as executive chair.
Andy Jassy, currently CEO of Amazon Web Services (AWS), will become Amazon.com’s CEO at that time. The ecommerce giant made the announcement alongside blowout fourth-quarter 2020 earnings, its biggest-ever quarter of revenue and net income.
In prepared remarks, Bezos said it was an “optimal time” for the CEO transition, because Amazon is “at its most inventive ever.” The 57-year-old exec, one of the wealthiest people in the world with a current net worth of about $197 billion, founded Amazon.com as an online bookstore in 1994 and has headed the company ever since.
“Amazon is what it is because of invention,” Bezos said in a statement. “When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention. Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
The exec outlined the “crazy things” that Amazon has done as a team and then made them “normal.”
“We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more. If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive,” Bezos said in a statement.
Jassy, Bezos’ replacement as chief executive of the world’s biggest ecommerce company, first joined Amazon in 1997 as a marketing manager. Jassy formed AWS in 2003 and Amazon promoted him from SVP to CEO in 2016.
Overall, Amazon continued to ride coronavirus tailwinds in Q4, historically the e-tailer’s biggest quarter thanks to holiday shopping. Sales increased 44% to an eye-popping $125.6 billion in Q4, and Amazon’s net income more than doubled year-over-year, to $7.2 billion. That translated into earnings of $14.09 per diluted share — utterly smashing Wall Street expectations.
Analysts on average had expected Amazon to post $119.7 billion in revenue and EPS of $7.23 for the year-end 2020 quarter, according to Refinitiv.
Meanwhile, during the quarter, Amazon Studios announced deals for upcoming Prime Video series and movies, including the Eddie Murphy comedy “Coming 2 America,” set to premiere in March, and an unscripted docuseries and new coming-of-age series based on Jessica Simpson’s memoir “Open Book.”
In Q4, Amazon said that its Fire TV devices now reach more than 50 million monthly active users around the world. The company also landed new content deals with premium streaming providers, including HBO Max, Discovery Plus, and Xfinity in the U.S., as well as Disney Plus in Mexico and Brazil; Now TV in the U.K.; and Canal Plus in France.
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