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Amazon’s billionaire CEO Jeff Bezos steps down

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Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos will transition to the role of executive chairman.
Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos will transition to the role of executive chairman.

Multinational technology company Amazon has announced its billionaire CEO and founder, Jeff Bezos, is stepping down from his role.

The company made the announcement yesterday in its financial results for its fourth quarter ended 31 December 2020.

Bezos will transition to the role of executive chairman in Q3, and Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services, will become chief executive officer of Amazon at that time, says the company.

In its results, Amazon said operating cash flow increased 72% to $66.1 billion for the 12 months, compared with $38.5 billion for the 12 months ended 31 December 2019.

Free cash flow increased to $31 billion for the 12 months, compared with $25.8 billion for the 12 months ended 31 December 2019.

Free cash flow less principal repayments of finance leases and financing obligations increased to $20.3 billion, compared with $16.2 billion for the year ended 31 December 2019.

Free cash flow less equipment finance leases and principal repayments of all other finance leases and financing obligations increased to $21.4 billion, compared with $12.5 billion for the 12 months ended 31 December 2019.

“Amazon is what it is because of invention. We do crazy things together and then make them normal,” said Bezos.

“We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalised 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. 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.”

Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in his garage in 1994 and went on to grow it into a colossus that dominates online retail, with operations in streaming music and television, groceries, cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.

His other businesses include The Washington Post newspaper and the private space firm Blue Origin.

Bezos oversaw Amazon’s growth from an online bookseller into a $1.7 trillion global retail and logistics behemoth, which has also made Bezos one of the world's richest people.

Jassy has worked for Amazon since 1997 and currently serves as CEO of the company's cloud business, Amazon Web Services, its biggest profit driver.

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will take over from Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO.
Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will take over from Jeff Bezos as Amazon CEO.

In an e-mail to Amazon employees, Bezos said: “I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to executive chair of the Amazon board and Andy Jassy will become CEO.

“In the exec chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.

“This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name. The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, “What’s the internet?” Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.

“Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognised as one of the most successful companies in the world.

“I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be.”

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