Andy Jassy steps out of the shadows – who exactly is Amazon’s new CEO? | Companies



Andy Jassy made a strong – and painful – first impression on billionaire Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shortly after joining the then start-up bookseller in 1997.

During a wild game of “broomball” – a mix of lacrosse and soccer that another Amazon manager invented and still is Played too competitively in the company – Jassy, ​​then a fresh recruit from Harvard Business School, accidentally hit Bezos on the head with a kayak paddle.

Bezos, 57, forgave Jassy, ​​53, and quickly (and repeatedly) promoted the New Yorker, whom he recognized as almost as competitive as he was.

On Monday, Jassy, ​​who is currently CEO of Amazon’s fast-growing cloud services division Amazon Web Services (AWS), will once again be promoted to second CEO of Amazon, stepping away from day-to-day control of the business. The handover takes place on the 27th anniversary of the official founding of Amazon on July 5, 1994.

Jassy’s rise to the top job comes at a critical time for Amazon, which is facing a growing threat of regulatory action to control its dominance in markets around the world. And as Bezos faces new challenges – including flying his company’s Blue Origin rocket into space later this month – Jassy will be tasked with upholding the company’s startup philosophy from day one at one of the world’s largest companies more than today It employs 1.3 million people.

“He will have to try to be everywhere and everything for everyone, with the restrictions,” says Natalie Berg, retail analyst and co-author of Amazon: How the world’s most relentless retailer will continue to revolutionize retail. “There is a risk of switching from disruptor to disruptor. It’s a challenge to innovate on a large scale and maintain the agility and culture that allows them to be as agile as they have been before. There are also many other disruptive companies. Fifteen-minute supermarkets like Weezy make Amazon look like a latecomer. “

The coronavirus pandemic lockdown helped Amazon’s sales jump 38% to a record 386 billion in 2020.In the UK, Amazon’s sales jumped 51% to a record 26.5 billion last year Entertain at home.

A huge surge in demand for cloud storage – from major streaming companies like Netflix and Spotify and government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and large parts of the British civil service – Driven massive increases in sales and profits at AWS, which Jassy runs.

Jeff Bezos will step down from day-to-day running of Amazon to focus on other projects such as his space exploration company Blue Origin. Photo: Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

That success has tightened Amazon’s review and calls for further regulatory scrutiny for a company that has been heavily criticized for its low tax payments and the treatment of workers.

Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said Jassy’s biggest challenge will be getting through that exam. “The retail department was so mad, a remarkable one [service] for customers it has probably taken advantage of employees. The stuff has to be tidied up, ”says Pachter. “Jassy has to be the spokeswoman and be the man to testify in front of Congress.”

Jassy has to do that and run the company with Bezos sitting as a chair on his shoulder. “Jassy will lead the meetings, but anything that requires a strategic decision and a lot of money will be brought to Bezos,” says Pachter.

On the plus side, Jassy has the trust of Bezos after leading the AWS division, which had AWS 13.5 billion in revenue for the first three months of 2021, and is also Amazon’s most reliable source of income. Although AWS accounted for 12% of total revenue in the first quarter, the division generated $ 4.2 billion in operating income, which is 46% of Amazon’s total profit.

Switching from Amazon to cloud storage was Jassy’s idea. In the early 2000s, when Jassy was Bezos’ chief of staff, he was supposed to find out why it was taking so long for engineers to develop new applications. He discovered that the delays were caused by the difficulty of engineers having to share large amounts of data with each other, and the idea for internal cloud storage was born.

Jassy presented the idea of ​​expanding the internal network to other companies at an executive retreat in 2003 and Bezos gave the go-ahead. “I don’t think either of us had the nerve to predict that it would grow that big or that fast,” Jassy said of AWS.

It wasn’t the first time Jassy had come up with a key business development idea. Years earlier it had been his idea to expand Amazon from a pure online bookstore to CDs and DVDs.

Dan Ives, another analyst at Wedbush, described Jassy as “one of the most powerful leaders not just in the cloud and technology sectors, but also in the business world.”

Jassy, ​​who grew up in the affluent city of Scarsdale, New York State and attended Harvard University and Harvard Business School, joined Amazon in 1997 as it was preparing to go public. “On the first Friday in May 1997, I took my final graduation exam at the Graduate School,” said Jassy in an interview with the tech site Recode. “I started at Amazon the next Monday, I didn’t know what my job would be. I didn’t know what my title would be, but it was very important to them that I show up that Monday. ”Amazon launched on May 15, 1997.

He had agreed with his wife that they would only go to the west coast for three years. “In fact, we wrote an agreement about a napkin in a bar. In my opinion, the limitation period for this napkin has expired. ” he said. They live on 10,000 sq. Ft. 1906 property in the Seattle neighborhood of Capitol Hill; Jassy has turned the basement into a mini sports bar where he can watch his favorite East Coast sports teams, the New York Mets, Giants and Rangers, play. A huge sports fanatic, he is also the minority owner of the Seattle Kraken National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.

For most of his time at Amazon, Jassy’s role was to be Bezos’ “shadow” and “intellectual sparring partner”. However, he has shown himself to be better prepared than Bezos to use his platform to express himself on political and social issues.

Following the death of Breonna Taylor, a black medic who was shot dead in her apartment by Louisville police officers, Jassy tweeted: “[We] can’t let the death of Breonna Taylor go without responsibility. We still don’t get it in the US. If you don’t hold the police accountable for killing black people, we will never experience justice and change, or be the country we aspire to (and claim) to be. “

He has also spoken out in favor of more equality for LGBTQ + people and against mass incarceration. “It’s crazy that the US has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the imprisoned population,” he also said on Twitter. “And the racial bias with which this detention is taking place is terrible.”



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