Andy Jassy comes out of the shadows – so who exactly is Amazon’s new CEO? | Business

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Andy Jassy made a powerful – and painful – first impression on Amazon billionaire founder Jeff Bezos soon after joining the startup bookseller in 1997.

During a turbulent game of ‘ball on ice’ – a cross between lacrosse and football that another Amazon executive invented and which is still played too competitively in the company – Jassy, then a fresh recruit from Harvard Business School, accidentally hit Bezos in the head with a kayak paddle.

Bezos, 57, forgave Jassy, ​​53, and quickly (and repeatedly) promoted the New Yorker, whom he recognized as being almost as competitive as him.

On Monday, Jassy, ​​who is currently Managing Director of Amazon’s rapidly growing cloud services division, Amazon Web Services (AWS), will be promoted again to be installed as Amazon’s second Managing Director, with Bezos becoming executive chairman of the board of directors while within walking distance of day-to-day control of the business The presentation comes on the occasion of the 27th anniversary of the official founding of Amazon, on July 5, 1994.

Jassy’s rise to the highest position comes at a critical time for Amazon, which faces a growing threat of regulatory action to control its dominance of markets across the globe. And, as Bezos takes on new challenges – including a flight into space on his company’s Blue Origin rocket later this month – Jassy will be tasked with maintaining the company’s ‘first day’ startup philosophy. company in what is now one of the largest companies in the world, employing more than 1.3 million people.

“He’ll have to strike a balance between trying to be everywhere and everything for everyone with the limits to that,” says Natalie Berg, retail analyst and Amazon co-author: How the Most Relentless Retailer in the World world will continue to revolutionize commerce. “There is a risk of going from disruptor to disrupted. There is a challenge to innovate at scale and maintain the agility and culture that has allowed them to be as agile as they have been. There are a lot of other disruptive businesses coming up. Fifteen-minute supermarkets like Weezy make Amazon look like a latecomer.

Lockdowns linked to the coronavirus pandemic helped Amazon sales increase 38% in 2020 to a record $ 386 billion and $ 23 billion in “operating income” (profit, for you and me ). In the UK, Amazon sales jumped 51% last year to a record $ 26.5 billion (£ 19.5 billion) as people trapped at home due to the Lockdowns have turned to the Internet retail company to buy items unavailable in stores closed and keep them. entertain at home.

A huge increase in demand for cloud storage – from large streaming companies such as Netflix and Spotify and government departments including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and much of the UK civil service – has resulted in a massive increase in AWS revenue and profit, which Jassy runs.

Jeff Bezos will step down from the day-to-day management of Amazon to focus on other projects, such as his space exploration company Blue Origin. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne / Reuters

This success has intensified Amazon’s scrutiny and demands for additional regulatory checks on a company that has come under heavy criticism for its low tax payments and the treatment of workers.

Michael Pachter, analyst at Wedbush Securities, said Jassy’s biggest challenge will be managing this review. “The retail division has become so frantic to provide a remarkable [service] for customers, it probably took advantage of employees. This stuff will have to be cleaned up, ”Pachter says. “Jassy is going to have to become the spokesperson and be the guy who testifies before Congress.”

Jassy will have to do it and run the business, with Bezos sitting on his shoulder as chairman. “Jassy will lead the meetings, but anything that requires a strategic decision and a lot of money, they will bring to Bezos,” Pachter said.

On the bright side, Jassy has Bezos’ confidence after leading the AWS division, which generated $ 13.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2021, a 32% increase over the same period a year earlier. AWS is also Amazon’s most trusted source of profit. Although AWS accounts for 12% of total first quarter revenue, the division achieved operating income of $ 4.2 billion, which is 46% of Amazon’s total profit.

Amazon’s move to cloud storage was Jassy’s idea. In the early 2000s, when Jassy was Bezos’ chief of staff, he was tasked with finding out why engineers were taking so long to develop new applications. He found that the delays were caused by the difficulties engineers encountered in sharing large amounts of data with each other, and the idea of ​​internal cloud storage was born.

Jassy pitched the idea of ​​expanding the internal network to other companies during a corporate executive retreat in 2003 and Bezos gave the green light. “I don’t think any of us had the audacity to predict that it would grow as big or as fast as it did,” Jassy said of AWS.

It was not the first time that Jassy came up with a key business development idea. Years earlier, he had had the idea of ​​expanding Amazon from a simple online bookstore to CDs and DVDs.

Dan Ives, another analyst at Wedbush, described Jassy as “one of the most powerful leaders, not only in cloud and tech, but in business.”

Jassy, ​​who grew up in the affluent town of Scarsdale, NY and attended Harvard University and Harvard Business School, joined Amazon in 1997 as she prepared to go public. . “I took my last graduate final exam on the first Friday in May 1997,” Jassy said in an interview with tech site Recode. “I started at Amazon the following Monday, I didn’t know what my job would be. I didn’t know what my title would be, but it was very important for them that I show up on Monday. Amazon floated on May 15, 1997.

He had agreed with his wife that they would only go to the West Coast for three years. “We actually wrote an agreement on a napkin in a bar, my understanding is that the limitation period for that napkin has expired,” he said. They live in a 10,000 square foot 1906 property in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood; Jassy transformed the basement into a sports mini bar where he watches his favorite East Coast sports teams, the New York Mets, Giants and Rangers. A keen sports fan, he is also the minority owner of the Seattle Kraken National Hockey League (NHL) ice hockey team.

For most of his time at Amazon, Jassy’s role was to act as Bezos’ “shadow” and “intellectual training partner”. However, he has been shown to be more prepared than Bezos to use his platform to speak out on political and societal issues.

After the death of Breonna Taylor, a black medical worker who was gunned down by Louisville cops inside her apartment, Jassy tweeted: “[We] cannot let Breonna Taylor’s death go without responsibility. We still don’t get it in the United States. If you don’t hold the police to account for murdering black people, we will never have justice and change, nor will we be the country we aspire (and claim) to be. “

He also spoke in favor of greater equality for LGBTQ + people and against mass incarceration. “It’s crazy that the United States has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the jailed population,” he also said on Twitter. “And, the racial bias with which this incarceration occurs is appalling.”



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