Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down later this year as CEO, a role he held for nearly 30 years. He will become the executive chairman, the company announced Tuesday.
Bezos, 57, will be replaced in the summer by
Andy Jassy, who runs Amazon’s cloud-computing business will replace Bezos, 57, in the summer.
In a blog post to employees, Bezos said that he plans to focus on new products and early initiatives being developed at Amazon. He said he would have more time for side projects, including his space exploration company Blue Origin, his philanthropic initiatives and overseeing The Washington Post, which he owns.
Bezos, who is the company’s biggest shareholder, will still have broad influence over Amazon.
“Jeff is really not going anywhere,” Amazon’s Chief Financial Officer Brian Olsavsky said in a call with reporters. “It’s more of a restructuring of who’s doing what.”
Launched in 1995, Amazon was a pioneer of fast, free shipping. It had won over millions of shoppers, who used the site to buy diapers, TVs and just about anything else. Under Bezos, Amazon also launched the first e-reader that gained mass acceptance, and its Echo listening device made voice assistants a common sight in living rooms.
Bezos, as a child, was intrigued by computers, and interested in building things, such as alarms he rigged. He got a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton University. Bezos then worked at several Wall Street companies.
He quit his job at D.E. Shaw to start an online retail business _ though at first, he wasn’t sure what to sell. Bezos quickly determined that an online bookstore would resonate with consumers. He and his now ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, whom he met at DE Shaw and married in 1993, set out on a road trip to Seattle.
Riches swelled to $180 billion
Amazon has gone far beyond selling paperbacks. It now produces movies, makes sofas and owns a grocery chain. And the company even has plans to send satellites into space to beam internet service to the earth. The company is one of the most valuable in the world, worth nearly $1.7 trillion.
Bezos’ riches have also swelled: His stake in Amazon is currently worth about $180 billion. For years he stayed behind the scenes, running the company. More recently, he sometimes stepped into the spotlight, showing up at movie premieres and Hollywood parties.