(CN) — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will step down in the third quarter of 2021, he announced during an earnings call Tuesday.
Bezos will hand the helm of the company he founded in 1994 to Andy Jassy, who has been charged with running the company’s widely successful cloud business Amazon Web Services.
Bezos will remain as chairman of the executive board and promised to be heavily involved with the technology behemoth’s operations.
“In the exec chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” Bezos wrote in a letter to staff posted to the company’s website Tuesday.
Bezos started the company as an online bookstore. But it has steadily morphed into one of the largest companies in the world, functioning as a mega retailer, a streaming service and an original manufacturer of various gadgets.
All of which made Bezos the world’s richest man as press time. He and Tesla CEO Elon Musk have oscillated back and forth for the title as of late depending on the vagaries of the stock prices of their two companies.
Bezos, like Musk, has started a new enterprise called Blue Origin, which aims to facilitate more space travel by making launch and relaunch technologies. Bezos also owns The Washington Post.
Jassy joined the company in 1997 and led the Amazon Web Services division, which continues to be the most profitable part of the business, according to the company’s earnings call on Tuesday.
“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have,” Bezos said. “He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”
Jassy will take control of an immensely profitable business.
The company brought in $135 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020, partially due to people’s aversion to shopping in person during the pandemic. For the entire year, Amazon earned $386 billion. Amazon’s market capitalization is about $1.7 trillion, making it the third-largest company in the world, behind Apple and Microsoft.
But he will also inherit a raft of challenges. Amazon’s critics are many, several of whom castigate the company’s culture and its treatment of employees.
Amazon is embroiled in a labor battle in Alabama, where warehouse workers are attempting to unionize. The battle there could have implications for labor relations throughout the nation and impact the company’s bottom line.
The company has also been criticized for tax avoidance in the past, although Amazon proponents point to the steps the company has taken to pay state and local sales taxes.
Jassy will also come into an antitrust environment, with many of the view that companies like Amazon are too big and influential in the lives of Americans and call for them to be broken up.
In October, the House Judiciary Committee concluded that Amazon — along with Google, Facebook and Apple — enjoy monopoly power.
The European Union has also filed antitrust suits against Amazon.
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