American business magnate Jeff Bezos announced in February 2021 that he would step down from his role as the chief executive officer of Amazon in the third quarter of the same year. On 5 July 2021, Andrew “Andy” R. Jassy, the former chief executive of Amazon Web Services, ascended to become the new Amazon chief executive.
Bezos is now the executive chairman of the multinational technology company. While it is true that his business made him one of the wealthiest people in the world, his leadership was critical to transforming Amazon from an online bookstore to a true technology company with business interest in cloud computing, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.
Reasons Bezos Stepped Down as the Chief Executive Officer of Amazon
According to a February official news release, Bezos explained that he attributes the growth and success of Amazon to inventions. His company pioneered several standards in electronic commerce, as well as in the greater tech industry to include cloud computing infrastructure, the Kindle electronic book, and automated shopping, among others.
He also noted that the positive financial results of the company come from the long-run results of invention. Nevertheless, he believed that his decision to step down from his role came from the fact that the company he founded has in its most inventive phase ever. This particular phase provides an optimal time for leadership transition.
Bezos also sent an email to all Amazon employees on 2 February 2021 to explain further his decision. Leading a multinational technology company requires a deep responsibility. He acknowledged that his chief executive position was too consuming. The responsibility made it challenging for him to direct his attention toward other pursuits.
Nevertheless, he explained that stepping down from his CEO role would allow him to give more time and energy to focus on his nonprofit ventures to include the Day1 Fund and the Bezos Earth Fund, as well as new business initiatives such as the aerospace startup Blue Origin and other existing businesses such as The Washington Post.
Understanding His New Role as the Executive Chairman of Amazon
Of course, the Amazon founder reiterated that leaving his chief executive post does not mean retirement. Remember that he is now the executive chairman. He committed to staying engaged in important Amazon initiatives but delegates the task of overseeing the entire company and leading it forward to Andy Jassy and the rest of the executive team.
Bezos noted that as the new executive chairman of Amazon, he is focusing his attention on new products and early initiatives as part of his attempt to expand the company and new ventures. It is important to note that an executive chairman acts as a strategic adviser to the CEO who will provide guidance and some degree of authority over strategic directions.
Transitioning from chief executive to executive chair demonstrates the apprenticeship model of succession. Notable business executives such as Bill Gates of Microsoft, Eric Schmidt of Google, Bob Iger of Disney utilized the same model when they stepped down from their role chief executive positions. Photo Credit: CC 2.0/Seattle City Council/Adapted