The New York TimesJuly 05, 2021 10:18:48 am
When Andy Jassy is elevated to CEO of Amazon on Monday, taking over from founder Jeff Bezos, it will be one of the most followed executive transfers in years.
But a much less announced, though still profoundly significant, change has already been underway at the company. Dozens of executives in Amazon’s top ranks have left in the past 18 months, many after working there for more than a decade.
It is an unusual level of disruption within the business. Outgoing executives do not represent a large portion of the top ranks, with hundreds of vice presidents now. But for years, Amazon’s leaders were considered for life. Many had been there since the early days of the company. They were loyal to Amazon, whose rising stock prices often made them rich.
Bezos personified that relationship. So did Jeff Wilke, who ran the global consumer business, and Steve Kessel, who ran its brick-and-mortar stores, and others who introduced and ran key programs such as Alexa, free delivery, and much of their business in the cloud. Now those leaders are gone.
For Wilke and Bezos to go so close together amounts to “epic and tectonic shifts,” said David Glick, a former Amazon vice president who is now the chief technology officer of Flexe, a logistics startup.
Wilke and Kessel are retired, but many vice presidents are leaving to fill important positions in public companies or high-growth startups. Teresa Carlson, who built Amazon’s government cloud business for more than a decade, in April became the chief growth officer for Splunk, which provides data software, and Greg Hart, who once followed Bezos for a year. and then he launched Alexa and Echo, now he’s the boss. product officer at the real estate firm Compass. Maria Renz, another former Bezos shadow who started at Amazon in 1999, is now a senior executive at SoFi, a personal finance company.
In recent years, Bezos has moved away from much of Amazon’s day-to-day business, focusing instead on strategic projects and outside ventures, such as his space startup, Blue Origin, giving his associates even more autonomy. On July 20, he is scheduled to fly aboard his rocket company’s first manned spaceflight.
This article originally appeared on The New York Times.
Karen Trail [c.2021 The New York Times Company]