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How will Bezos stepping down at Amazon impact the company’s future?

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. (AP)

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos is going to step down as CEO in a few months. Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy will step in to run things beginning in the third quarter of 2021, with Bezos transitioning to executive chair of Amazon’s board.

Todd Bishop of GeekWire joined KIRO Nights with his reaction to the news and a little background on how Jassy may change the company.

“Amazon Web Services, for the full year, they revealed they posted $13.5 billion in profits on the bottom line, which is 63% more than half of all of Amazon’s profits,” Bishop said. “So my joke on GeekWire today was it turns out Andy Jassy was basically running most of Amazon already.”

Jeff Bezos announces decision to step down as Amazon CEO

As host Mike Lewis noted, given Bezos’ real focus on outer space, he has at times seemed to pull away from the company, and while he’s going to retain effective ownership of the company, this move appears to have been a long time in the making.

“It has been; it’s still a bit of a surprise. So Bezos will remain as executive chairman, so he’s not entirely leaving,” Bishop responded. “And to your point, he’s been shifting and focusing a lot on Blue Origin, his commercial space venture, but also increasingly philanthropy, his day one funds for homelessness and early childhood education, and then also focusing in part on the climate.”

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“So he’s broadening his horizons here. And there are, interestingly, a lot of parallels to what happens at Microsoft here — if you take Steve Ballmer out of the equation at Microsoft — because Satya Nadella is kind of the equivalent, the parallel, to Andy Jassy — the CEO of Microsoft, Satya Nadella — and Bill Gates obviously shifted away to get into philanthropy,” Bishop said. “So Amazon is loathe to compare themselves to Microsoft. But there are some similarities here.”

Is there going to be any real effect on Amazon or will the company move ahead without missing a beat?

“Here’s the main way that I think it’s going to be different: Amazon’s culture is so ingrained. I’m pretty sure that half of those executives have the 14 leadership principles tattooed on their backside, like it is almost obnoxious the extent to which they cite those things. … So in that way, I think the culture is very much going to continue,” Bishop said.

“But Andy Jassy is one of those guys who … was a little bit more competitive than Jeff Bezos. … He’s one of the owners of the new NHL franchise, Seattle Kraken, and even though the first Amazon leadership principle is focus on customers, not competitors, Andy Jassy takes a lot of digs in particular at Microsoft in his public speeches,” he added. “And on top of that, he organizes Buffalo Wings eating competitions among the AWS employees. You can kind of get a sense that this is somebody who’s going to joust a little bit and not be afraid to take some jabs.”

Listen to KIRO Nights weeknights from 7 – 10 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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