[imagesource: Wesley Mann/ LLC]
It’s as tough to imagine Amazon without Jeff Bezos as it is to imagine him as a philanthropist, rather than the type of person who inspires the construction of a guillotine outside of his house.
When pitted against his fellow billionaires and allocated a score out of five based on the percentage of their fortune that they have donated, he was down there on the lowest end of the spectrum with the ‘ones’.
Let them eat cake.
But I digress.
We’re here to look at what would happen if Bezos decided to take a backseat at Amazon.
Per The Washington Post, Bezos has given zero indication that he plans on walking away from the company he created 26 years ago, and yet speculation abounds as to who’s waiting in the wings, ready to take his place when he eventually steps back.
The favourite is Andy Jassy, who jumped to the top of the list of potential heirs when Jeff Wilke, who ran Amazon’s retail business, unexpectedly announced plans last month to retire early next year.
Top Amazon execs, who chose to remain anonymous, said that both Wilke and Jassy were groomed for the job.
While Amazon is known to most as the online shopping platform where you can buy seemingly anything, Jassy brought it into a new market – cloud computing.
Jassy (below) is, therefore, most identified with Amazon Web Services, the unit that pioneered cloud computing, the business of renting space and software programming for customers to run their technical operations on the company’s wide array of servers.
“Andy embodies the culture of Amazon,” said Matt Mcllwain, the managing director of Madrona Venture Group, a Seattle venture firm that invests in cloud start-ups.
“He has consistently demonstrated the ability to be a builder.”
Bezos has made some lifestyle changes recently that some are interpreting as the start of what promises to be a very drawn-out exit strategy, including funding space exploration, beginning a life with his new girlfriend, and owning The Washington Post.
Because few have held onto their companies along with consistently high profits for as long as Bezos, there isn’t a model for how to step back.
Many are looking to Bill Gates’ slow shuffle out of Microsoft as a guideline:
The Microsoft co-founder spread his separation from the company over two decades. In January 2000, Gates, then 44, turned the chief executive job over to Steve Ballmer.
Gates gradually shed roles at the software giant until he gave up his last official Microsoft title as a board director in March.
Jassy is an “Amazon lifer”, having joined the company in 1997 after he graduated from Harvard Business School.
Back then Amazon had only a few hundred employees — it now has 876,800 workers — and it had just turned public, compared with a current market valuation of $1.64 trillion.
He led Amazon’s first push outside of book sales, drawing up the plans to add music sales to the young online retailer’s remit. In the early 2000s, Jassy shadowed Bezos as his technical assistant, something of a chief-of-staff role.
And the grooming began. When you’ve worked alongside someone for so long, you’re bound to pick up a habit or two.
“He has adopted a lot of Jeff’s personality,” said a former executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to converse candidly about previous colleagues. “He’s more of a creative ideas person, rather than an operations person.”
Jassy has also dived deep into some of the tech that the company has been working on, including its controversial facial-recognition technology.
That bit we’re not too pleased about.
The Washington Post takes a deep dive into where Amazon is at now, which you can read about here.
While I’m sure Jassy is looking forward to taking over, this could work out to be a Prince Charles situation.
He’s never taking the throne and he knows it.
[imagesource:wikicommons] All hail our AI overlord! Well, maybe not just yet, consid...
[imagesource:jimbartsh] The Duke and Duchess of Sussex's Netflix documentary flew total...
[imagesource:wikimediacommons] Looks like billionaire Wolfgang Porsche skipped the "in ...
Watch movies via Labia Home Screen*. It's hard to believe we're already staring down the ...
[imagesource:thelasttourist/hulu] If you book a cruise to ride on a go-kart track in th...