Jeff Bezos leaves Amazon operational command

Jeff Bezos leaves Amazon operational command

Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, embarks on a new stage in his career after having created, from a modest online bookstore, one of the most thriving companies on the planet: Amazon.

At 57, the businessman will leave his position as CEO to Andy Jassy today to pursue other projects, starting with a trip to space on July 20.

He will maintain a key role in the company he founded 27 years ago and will remain the executive chairman of its board of directors.

While it has been celebrated for the many innovations that completely changed entire economic sectors, it has also been vilified for certain business practices with a tendency to throw off competition or for the treatment of wage earners.

Whether it’s book sales, IT, or home delivery, “Bezos is a leader in driving change,” says Darrell West of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation.

“It has promoted numerous services that people have already incorporated, such as shopping online, ordering anything and having it delivered the next day,” he highlights.

Launched from Bezos’s garage, Amazon is now worth more than $1.7 trillion on the stock market and its revenue was $386 billion in 2020. It is a tentacular group, ranging from online commerce to cloud computing, going through artificial intelligence and film production.

Bezos “has the instinct to figure out what is going to work,” estimates Roger Kay, an analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates.

The company has outperformed its rivals by deciding in the early years to “reinvest all profits in its growth,” recalls Kay. A strategy that may have perplexed investors but now “seems completely logical,” he highlights.

For Bob O’Donnell of Technalysis Research, Bezos “was not the first or the only one” in the wave of online commerce “but he understood it and has worked to improve it.”

The head of Amazon has mainly “understood the need to build the infrastructure,” with its vast network of trucks, warehouses or airplanes, O’Donnell points out. “Many other companies did not spend money on this thankless behind-the-scenes job.”

He also made the fortunes of his company his own: Even after giving his ex-wife part of his shares in Amazon after his divorce, Bezos currently has about 200,000 million dollars, according to Forbes magazine.

He leaves the daily management of his company to spend more time dedicated to his other projects, such as the Blue Origin society – which will make its first space tourism flight on July 20 with Bezos on board. The businessman also owns the Washington Post and has said he wants to spend time and money fighting climate change.

He is leaving at a time when Amazon, which employs more than 800,000 people in the United States after having seen its activity take off even more during the pandemic, faces much criticism from worker advocates and regulators.

Amazon notes that it offers a minimum wage of $15 an hour and other perks, but critics regularly denounce the obsession with efficiency even at the risk of treating workers like machines.

In his last annual letter to shareholders in April, and after learning of a unionization attempt at a group warehouse in Alabama, Bezos acknowledged that the company needed to improve for its employees and promised that Amazon would become “the best employer on Earth”.

But uneasy about the growing influence of tech giants in huge sectors of the economy, regulators are studying measures that could lead to a partial dismantling of Amazon.

Amazon could then become “a victim of its own success,” says Kay.

But even if the group had to split into several entities, each would “prosper in its own market,” he predicts. “I can easily imagine a scenario in which the sum of those entities is shown to be greater than the unified set. The shareholders should not suffer.”