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AWS CEO Andy Jassy Named New Amazon CEO, Replacing Bezos

‘Right now, I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition,’ Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos says in a statement.

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy – credited as the ‘father’ of cloud computing – will be the new CEO of parent company Amazon.com when founder Jeff Bezos steps down in the third quarter.

Amazon made the announcement in its fourth-quarter earnings report issued after the market closing bell today.

“Those of us who know Andy are excited to see him take on this greater responsibility," Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer, said during an earnings call with analysts. “He is a visionary leader, a great operator, and he understands what makes Amazon such a special innovative company. He's got a great track record of developing multiple things and businesses within Amazon, not the least of which is AWS, which is arguably the most profitable important technology company in the world. Andy has a chance to put his imprint on Amazon. He is certainly going to carry through the culture and the vision and the invention factor that Amazon is and will take that to the next level.”

Amazon did not disclose Jassy’s successor as CEO of AWS.

“We'll be working on backfilling the AWS role, and we'll talk more about that in the future,” Olsavsky said.

Jassy, who joined Amazon right out of Harvard Business School in 1997, launched AWS in 2006, growing it into the dominant leader of the public cloud computing industry with an annual revenue run rate that now stands at $51 billion and dwarfs rivals Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. AWS revenue jumped to $12.74 billion in the fourth quarter that ended Dec. 31, 2020, up 28 percent from the same period last year.

Jassy has shaped AWS under a strategy that includes a very rapid pace of innovation and “customer obsession.” AWS is known for “working backward from customers” in its delivery of new products and services that meet their demand, with technologies from databases and analytics to artificial intelligence and machine learning to edge computing and 5G.

“We often say ‘there’s no compression algorithm for experience,’” Jassy told CRN in an exclusive interview in 2019. “You can’t learn the lessons you have to learn until you get to those different elbows of the curve and scale and experience what happens. With a business that’s significantly larger than the next few combined, it’s just harder for those companies to have learned some of those lessons until they get to that scale.”

Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair of Amazon’s board in the third quarter, which starts July 1.

“We're also excited that Jeff will retain a very important role at the company that he founded and has guided for over 25 years,” Olsavsky said. “He has created a culture of invention and innovation that drives us every day, and we remain bound by our common focus and obsession on the customer.”

Bezos’ new role on the board is a “super important,” one according to Olsavsky.

“The board is super active and important in Amazon's success story,” he said. “He will be involved in many large one-way door issues...meaning, the more important decisions -- things like acquisitions, things like strategies and going into grocery and other things. Jeff's always been involved with that, and that's where he'll keep his time focused on in his new role.”

Amazon is what it is because of invention, according to Bezos.

“We do crazy things together and then make them normal,” Bezos said in a statement. “We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized 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,” Bezos continued. “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.”

Jassy’s appointment as CEO of Amazon is a reward for a job well-done, building AWS from a startup to the number one cloud provider, according to Ethan Simmons, a managing partner at PTP, an AWS partner and born-in-the-cloud consulting and services firm based in Norwood, Mass.

“Andy took AWS from nothing to the largest cloud provider in the world,” Simmons said. “He created a business model at AWS that at one time people weren’t even sure was going to work. He navigated a lot of different challenges at AWS and has done an amazing job. Hopefully he’ll continue that as the CEO of Amazon.”

One big decision that Jassy likely will have on his plate is whether AWS should be spun off as a separate business, Simmons said. “This could be the start of a move to separate AWS as a separate company to unlock shareholder value,” he said. “AWS drives so much of the profits of Amazon. I don’t think they are receiving the true value of the AWS portion of the business.”

As an AWS partner, Simmons said the big question is who will replace Jassy.

“We’ll have to see who fills Andy’s shoes,” he said. “I really liked the changes under Andy with AWS becoming more channel-friendly and leveraging partners more in the business model. My biggest concern is that whoever replaces Andy has a partner obsession.”

Simmons said PTP’s decision to make AWS a strategic partner has been key to the company’s success in building an impressive life sciences customer installed base.

“We have seen tremendous growth in the AWS business and hope to continue the successful partnership going forward with whoever replaces Andy,” Simmons said.

At AllCloud, a San Francisco-based cloud services provider and AWS partner, CEO Eran Gil said that naming Jassy as the next CEO of Amazon is a “very positive sign.”

“It certainly emphasizes the importance of AWS as part of Amazon,” Gil said. “Andy’s been a great leader for the AWS business, and we look forward to him taking the reins of the entire organization.”

Jassy will bring “a broader perspective to the rest of the Amazon organization, as it pertains to the cloud and infrastructure world he’s been living in for a long time,” Gil said.

Jassy has also been “tremendous when it’s come to developing the [partner] ecosystem,” Gil said. “He’s brought on great people over the years to drive the channel and alliances globally. It’s evolved tremendously around managed services providers like ourselves. For the [channel] ecosystem, I think he’s done a phenomenal job as CEO of AWS. I’m excited to see how it evolves even further moving forward.”

Josh Perkins, field CTO at Chicago-based AHEAD, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and No. 36 on CRN’s Solution Provider 500 for 2020, also applauded the move to select Jassy as the next CEO of Amazon.

“Andy’s an obvious candidate to take over from Jeff, in terms of continuing to lead the organization down that path of tech-driven reinvention and disruption,” Perkins said. “It‘s certainly indicative of the success that AWS has had as a component of Amazon’s technology-first, invention-first strategy for their organization.”

In terms of channel friendliness at AWS, Perkins said he expects that Jassy’s successor as AWS CEO will “maintain or improve their direction in that regard for continued growth.”

He also said that the timing does make sense for this leadership succession at Amazon.

“Amazon is riding incredibly high as an organization in terms of market cap, quarterly earnings and investor sentiment, and is poised to continue that in a positive way,” Perkins said. “That makes for a good exit window for the founder--and a great opportunity for [Jassy] and the people that will succeed him at AWS to carry that forward and continue to carry the torch.”

Chris Garvey, executive vice president of cloud services at Seattle-based 2nd Watch, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, said he was somewhat surprised at Bezos “stepping back from the business day to day--but [there’s] no surprise in the choice of Andy Jassy to run the whole show.”

“The growth and industry-defining course charted by AWS under Jassy have been nothing short of historic,” Garvey said in an email to CRN. “The innovation and growth mindset is shared across Amazon, so I think it will be an easy transition to the top.”

Steven Burke and Kyle Alspach contributed to this story.

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