Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, will step down as CEO on July 5, he announced during the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday.
After a nearly three-decade run as CEO of the internet behemoth that has made him one of the world’s wealthiest people, Bezos will hand over the reins to Andy Jassy, who currently runs Amazon Web Services. Amazon’s executive chair will be taken over by Jeff Bezos.
The change in leadership was first announced in the company’s February earnings report, with Jassy taking over during the fiscal third quarter. The exact date of the transition had not been disclosed by Amazon (AMZN).
The timing is “sentimental,” Bezos said — July 5 is the date Amazon was incorporated in 1994.
“I’m very excited to move into the [executive] chair role, where I’ll focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” Bezos said Wednesday. In February, he expressed interest in having more time to work on his outside projects, such as the Bezos Earth Fund and Blue Origin.
Bezos expects Jassy, who has worked for Amazon for 24 years and risen through the ranks to lead the company’s most profitable division, to be “an outstanding leader.”
“He has the highest of high standards and I guarantee Andy will never let the universe make us typical,” Bezos said. “He has the energy needed to keep alive in us what has made us special.”
Tableau CEO Adam Selipsky will succeed Jassy when he leaves AWS to run Amazon, the company announced in March.
Jassy will take over a business that is becoming increasingly complex and scrutinized, as evidenced by the news that Amazon is buying MGM for $8.45 billion early Wednesday and by some of the issues raised at the shareholder meeting that followed.
One of the shareholder proposals presented at the meeting, which was voted down, would have allowed an hourly fulfillment associate to serve on the company’s board of directors. While the motion was unsuccessful, it highlighted recent criticism of Amazon’s treatment of warehouse workers, particularly in the wake of a historic union drive at one of its facilities in April that failed due to company opposition.
During the shareholder meeting, Bezos was questioned about Amazon’s massive size. The question arose after the District of Columbia filed an antitrust lawsuit against the company on Tuesday, alleging that it has harmed competition by abusing its e-commerce market dominance. (At the time, Amazon retaliated against the lawsuit, claiming that the DC attorney general “has it exactly backwards.”)
“I’d say we face intense competition from well-established companies everywhere we do business, in every industry,” Bezos said. “[Retail is] a very healthy industry and it’s far from a winner-take-all situation.”
Amazon’s telehealth offering, Amazon Care, and its satellite internet effort, Project Kuiper, are among the newer bets that Jassy will have to manage, according to Bezos.
“None of these ideas are guaranteed to work,” Bezos said. “All of them are gigantic investments and they’re all risks. … Our whole history as a company is about taking risks, many of which have failed and many of which will fail, but we’ll continue to take big risks.”