Jeff Bezos to Step Down as CEO of Amazon, Will Take on Role of Executive Chair

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Jason Duaine Hahn
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Greg Doherty/Getty

Jeff Bezos is leaving his position as the CEO of Amazon later this year, the announced on Tuesday.

The 57-year-old, who founded Amazon as an online bookstore in 1994, will transition to his new role as Executive Chair in the third quarter of 2021. Taking his place will be Andy Jassy, the current CEO of Amazon Web Services, Bezos told employees in a letter published to their website.

"In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives," Bezos wrote. "Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence."

Over the last year, Bezos has focused on other efforts outside of the company, including his Bezos Earth Fund, which will provide billions of dollars to scientists and organizations who are working to save the planet from the effects of rising temperatures.

Today, Bezos is estimated to be worth $196 billion, making him the wealthiest person on Earth, according to Forbes. He was briefly surpassed by Tesla and SpaceX founder Elon Musk in January.

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SAN FRANCISCO, CA - OCTOBER 20: Founder/chairman/CEO of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, speaks onstage during "The Prime of Mr. Jeff Bezos" at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on October 20, 2016 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Vanity Fair) Jeff Bezos

"This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name," Bezos wrote in his letter. "The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, 'What's the internet?' Blessedly, I haven't had to explain that in a long while."

"Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world," he continued.

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In a press release sent out by the company on Tuesday, Amazon said its net income increased to $21.3 billion in 2020, having risen from $11.6 billion in 2019. Last year, Amazon was ranked as the second-most successful company by Forbes, only behind Walmart.

Bezos addressed the company's growth in his letter.

"How did that happen? Invention. Invention is the root of our success," Bezos explained in his message. "We've done crazy things together, and then made them normal."

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"If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive," he continued. "I don't know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon's, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be."

In 2019, Bezos announced he was committing to meeting the goals of the Paris climate agreement and aimed to make Amazon carbon neutral by 2040. To jumpstart the initiative, called the Climate Pledge, the company ordered 100,000 electric delivery trucks that will hit the roads by 2024.

"Amazon couldn't be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to. We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish," Bezos concluded in his letter. "We serve individuals and enterprises, and we've pioneered two complete industries and a whole new class of devices. We are leaders in areas as varied as machine learning and logistics, and if an Amazonian's idea requires yet another new institutional skill, we're flexible enough and patient enough to learn it."

"Keep inventing, and don't despair when at first the idea looks crazy," he said. "Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass. It remains Day 1."