AWS’ New CEO Matt Garman On Microsoft, AI, Amazon EC2: 6 Things To Know

From publicly taking shots at Microsoft to being AWS’ first-ever product manager for Amazon EC2, here are six big things partners and customers need to know about AWS’ new CEO Matt Garman.

From being Amazon EC2’s first-ever product manager and helping roll out Amazon Web Services’ first service level agreements, to why Amazon CEO Andy Jassy selected him to become AWS’ new CEO—CRN breaks down the six big things you need to know about Matt Garman.

The $100 billion cloud company unveiled on Tuesday that CEO Adam Selipsky is resigning from his position after three years as AWS’ leader and a total of 15 years with the Seattle-based company.

Matt Garman, an 18-year AWS veteran who is currently senior vice president of sales, marketing and global services, will take over the reins on June 13.

“Over the last 18 years I have been fortunate enough to get to work on many different aspects of the AWS business, but one constant has been the world class talent and the unwavering customer obsession of the people I have gotten to work with,” said Garman in a statement. “I am more optimistic than I have ever been for the potential for innovation and growth ahead of us, and I look forward helping us move faster, invent more, and operate as one team to help our customers.”

[Related: AWS’ New CEO Garman Will ‘Crush It’; Partners Shocked At Selipsky’s Exit]

Garman will have his hands full as he’s tasked with keeping AWS as the world leader in cloud computing as well as Amazon’s bullish goal of becoming a global AI powerhouse.

Here are the six most important things AWS customers, investors and partners need to know about AWS new CEO Matt Garman.

Garman Went After Microsoft Licensing In 2022

In 2022, Garman bashed Microsoft’s licensing strategy on LinkedIn, saying it was a “troubling admission” of “anti-competitive tactics”.

“MSFT’s answer is not to do what’s right for customers and fix their policy so all customers can run MSFT’s software on the cloud provider they choose; but rather, under the pretext of supporting European technology needs, MSFT proposes to select cloud providers about whom it is less competitively concerned and allow MSFT software to run only on those providers,” Garman wrote in a July 2022 post.

“This is not fairness in licensing and is not what customers want,” he said. “We continue to hear from customers around the world that MSFT’s discriminatory licensing practices are costing them millions of dollars and the freedom to work with whom they wish.”

Garman’s public tactics against AWS’ largest cloud and AI rival is not too typical of tech executives.

As AWS’ soon-to-be CEO, it will be interesting to see if Garman is a more vocal CEO than Selipsky as it pertains to competitors like Microsoft and Google.

Click through to read the other five big things you should know about Matt Garman.

Garman’s AWS History: From Amazon Intern To AWS CEO

Matt Garman is 48 years old and first joined Amazon during AWS’ inception in 2006.

Garman graduated from Stanford University in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering, followed by obtaining his engineering master’s the next year. In 2004, he attended Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and received his MBA.

Garman officially started at Amazon as an MBA intern during the summer of 2005, and joined the company full time in 2006 as one of the first AWS product managers. His first role was principal product manager of software development for Amazon EC2.

In just three years, Garman was promoted to director and general manager of Amazon EC2. From 2013 to 2020, Garman was vice president of AWS Compute Services.

“Initially working across all of AWS, Matt helped create our first service level agreements, define new features, and create new pricing plans,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in a statement. “He then became our first product manager for EC2, and led EC2 product management in its early, formative years. During that time, he also led the team that defined, launched, and operated EBS [Amazon Elastic Block Store].”

In January 2020, Garman was promoted to senior vice president of AWS sales, marketing and global services. He began reporting directly to then CEO Jassy.

Garman will officially take over as CEO of AWS on June 3.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy: ‘Matt Knows Our Customers And Business As Well As Anybody In The World’

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy (pictured) says he is bullish about AWS future with Garman at the helm due to his skillset.

“Matt has an unusually strong set of skills and experiences for his new role. He’s very customer focused, a terrific product leader, inventive, a clever problem-solver, right a lot, has high standards and meaningful bias for action,” said Jassy.

Amazon’s CEO added that Garman has been one of the best “learners” Jassy has met and his experience on both the product and demand generation side is a key.

“In the 18 years he’s been in AWS, he’s been one of the better learners I’ve encountered. Matt knows our customers and business as well as anybody in the world, and has senior leadership experience on both the product and demand generation sides,” said Jassy.

In is key to note that since 2020, Garman was a member of Jassy’s senior leadership team, dubbed the ‘S Team’, who helped set AWS goals, strategy, company culture and handle crises.

“I’m excited to see Matt and his outstanding AWS leadership team continue to invent our future—it’s still such early days in AWS,” Jassy said.

Matt Garman’s GenAI, AWS Marketplace And Partner Strategy

CRN spoke with Garman six months ago in November 2023 about AWS partners, generative AI and the AWS Marketplace.

When asked why partners should place their bets on AWS in 2024, Garman said there’s more potential for AI and cloud “ahead of us than behind us.”

“So the potential going into 2024 is, generative AI is going to accelerate customers move to the cloud,” he said. “How do customers take advantage of Gen AI? Really, customers can’t take advantage of GenAI to the full extent if their data is not organized and really in a cloud format. You see this time and again: if your data is locked on-prem in proprietary systems, it’s really hard to actually leverage the power of AI to read across a bunch of different data sources, make interesting inferences, and come up with useful wins for your company. … From a partner point of view, that is an enormous opportunity to jump in and help customers move faster or they’re going to be left behind.”

When asked where partners play in GenAI, Garman said AWS has taken a “partner-centric approach” to AI since the beginning such as making all foundational models available to customers on Amazon Bedrock.

“We didn’t just focus on our own models or models from one provider, we said ‘We want all models available.’ So we have models from Anthropic, Cohere, Stability AI, Meta, AI21 [Labs], etc., as well as first party models,” Garman told CRN. “Partners help around how customers can get benefit from that. They can dive into financial services use case or risk use case and say, ‘This is how you apply generative AI, not just as a chatbot on your website, but how you combine all of these things to get better risk analysis.’ Or, ‘Here’s how to get better productivity from your internal employees.’ Accenture, Deloitte and the largest GSI [global system integrators] in the world are building AWS-focused GenAI practices to help customers exactly solve those problems.”

Lastly, Garman said the AWS Marketplace is a “positive flywheel” that will help take his company to new heights.

“Our end customers like to procure things through that Marketplace. It gives them one pane of glass. It gets them one bill. From a procurement point of view, it makes everything much simpler,” Garman said.

Garman Pushes AWS ‘One Team’ Concept

One big focus area for Garman has been on an AWS strategy within the company dubbed ‘One Team.’

For example, Garman helped roll out a new career development program dubbed Growth Conversations in his marketing and sales organization, aimed at providing employees the ability to talk with managers about their career opportunities ahead.

Garman also helped eliminate overlapping roles and redundancy inside his organization, including the prevention of different teams from contacting the same customer and costs saving during deal closures. His sales and marketing team is now organized by industry verticals—like education and finance—compared to a regional model.

“I am more optimistic than I have ever been for the potential for innovation and growth ahead of us, and I look forward helping us move faster, invent more, and operate as one team to help our customers,” said Garman.

Garman: ‘AWS Is Much More Than Just A Business’; ‘Organizational Adjustments’ Ahead

In his first statement after his new CEO position was announced, Garman said the company he’s worked at for the past 18 years is more than just a business.

“For me, AWS is much more than just a business. We are a team of missionaries working passionately to help make our customers’ lives and businesses better every day,” said Garman.

Garman said as he transitions into his new leadership role, AWS employees should expect some internal adjustments.

“There will naturally be some organizational adjustments that we will make as part of this transition, so look for details on those in the coming weeks,” Garman said. “Also, I will be hosting a number of AWS Town Halls over the next month, and I look forward to connecting with more of you directly during those.”

Overall, Garman said he is “humbled” and “excited” to take over as CEO of AWS.

“It has been a privilege to work alongside all of you for the past 18 years, and I am humbled for the opportunity to continue to do so in this new broader role,” he said.