An incredible 25 years after Jeff Bezos created Amazon from his garage, the time has come for the ecommerce mogul to retire as CEO (albeit with US$197 billion in his pocket), leaving space for Andy Jassy to take the helm.
So, who exactly is Jassy?
The self-proclaimed experienced buffalo wings eater is a father of two and is a big fan of sports, music and films. He also happens to be one of Bezos’ earliest recruits.
The new Amazon President and CEO has been at the tech company since he graduated college 24 years ago.
“I took my last final exam of graduate school the first Friday of May 1997. I started at Amazon the next Monday,” Jassy told Recode . “I didn’t know what my job was going to be, [what] my title was going to be, what group I was going to work in.
“I started working in marketing. That’s what I started off doing, running customer retention and competitive intelligence.”
With early knowledge of the inner workings of Amazon, where he has worked alongside Bezos for much of his career, Jassy has continued to flourish at the leading tech empire.
“I wanted a place that was very entrepreneurial. I wanted a place that if I was able to help start a business, there [would be] no ceiling to what we could pursue,” Jassy told Recode .
And there’s definitely been no barrier to what he – or the Amazon team – can accomplish.
Becoming CEO on the sentimental date of the company’s 27th anniversary on 5 July, Jassy has worked his way through the C-suite, holding a number of senior leadership roles across Amazon, which reported US$386.1 billion in revenue in 2020.
The appointment, which was announced in February, sees Jassy stepping away from his former role in which he founded and led Amazon’s subsidiary IT platform Amazon Web Services. The executive served as its CEO since April 2016 and brought in US$13.5 billion in revenue in the first three months of 2021 alone.
“We have a great chance to build a lasting company that will outlast all of us.” – Andy Jassy
However, no leadership role is quite as significant as being the big boss of 1.3 million employees globally.
And to think Jassy had only planned to stay with the company a few years.
“My then fiancé, now wife, was from Los Angeles,” he said in 2019. “We’d lived on the east coast for five years prior to that point and the agreement was to come out west for two to three years, and then go back to New York. In fact, we wrote the agreement on a napkin in a bar. That was 22 years ago.”
From being surrounded by visionaries to being inspired by Bezos’ unique ideas, the culture and pioneering opportunities proved difficult to leave.
As the second CEO in Amazon’s history, Jassy is regarded as being almost as equally as competitively driven as Bezos.
With a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School, Jassy’s experience spans across both business-to-business and business-to-consumer sectors.
Not only is Jassy taking the multibillion-dollar reins at Amazon, but he is also a Commissioner on the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, on the Trust of the American Academy of Arts of Sciences, on the Board of Trustees for Rainier Scholars and is Chair of Rainier Prep’s Board of Directors.
The new leadership direction leaves space for Bezos to explore his many innovative avenues including his Blue Origin spaceship company.
“Jeff is so unusual and so talented,” Jassy told Recode in 2019. “He’s unbelievably inventive. He’s a really big thinker. He has unbelievably high standards.
“I worked for him for 18 months … in a Chief of Staff role. I thought I had pretty high standards before I started that job … [soon] I realised my standards weren’t high enough.
“Our work is not done. We have a great chance to build a lasting company that will outlast all of us.”
CEOs who worked their way up
- Mary Barra
- Bob Iger
- Tracey Armstrong
- Chris Rondeau
- Richard Olson
At 18 years old, Barra started working on the assembly line at General Motors where she spent the next few decades working her way up through the company until she was named CEO in 2014.
Beginning his media career with ABC in 1974 (which was later acquired by Walt Disney Company), Iger climbed through the ranks until he made it to the height of the company as CEO of Walt Disney in 2005.
Starting as a clerk at Copyright Clearance Centre at 21 years old, Armstrong stepped into the CEO role in 2007 – a position she’s held for 14 years.
In 1993, Rondeau got a part-time job working at reception at Planet Fitness. Two decades later he became CEO of the company.
When 22 year old Olson started at The Toro Co. as a manufacturing process engineer, he only planned to stay at the garden company for a couple of years – that was 34 years ago. Now he has been CEO of the business since 2016.