None of us really expected this announcement. Jeff Bezos, the current CEO of Amazon has said that he will be stepping away from his current position to become executive chair of the Amazon board. The current CEO of Amazon Web Services, Andy Jassy, will take over from Bezos in the Amazon hotseat sometime in Q3 2021. The world’s richest man, with a net worth around $188 billion, now wants to focus on Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin and The Washington Post, among other initiatives and passions. Bezos insists that this isn’t a move towards retiring and will continue to stay involved in Amazon initiatives. Amazon share price went up 1.1% to $3,380 per share as Nasdaq responded positively to the big changes at the tech giant, which is also indicative of a larger vote of confidence for incoming CEO Andy Jassy.
“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I'm excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it's consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it's hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I've never had more energy, and this isn't about retiring. I'm super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have,” says Bezos in a communication sent to all Amazon employees a few hours ago.
Bezos says Amazon started 27 years ago with the simple idea of creating an online store that sold everything, at a time when the internet wasn’t exactly a known thing. “What is the internet?”, he says was the most common question in the early years. Amazon started out 27 years ago with Bezos and ex-wife MacKenzie Scott. Today, his vision of an online shopping store for everything now sells more than $283,000 worth of goods every minute. According to the Q4 2020 numbers just released by Amazon, the company clocked sales worth $386.1 billion in 2020, a sharp 38% increase over the $280.5 billion worth of sales in 2019.
“Amazon is what it is because of invention. We do crazy things together and then make them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more,” said Bezos, in his latest communication.
The First Hints Of Change
While we have all been well versed with the early days and the journey that Amazon took in the early, it is perhaps even more significant to look at the acceleration that Amazon did, on multiple fronts, over the past few years. The company truly evolved, across domains, to become a big tech force. A lot of the hints of the changes towards a larger interest sphere for Amazon started back in 2013. Not only did Bezos start shaving his head, he also made a personal transaction to buy a stake in The Washington Post—to the tune of $250 million.
Blue Origins: Space Still Remains The Next Frontier
It may not exactly be common knowledge, but Bezos had founded a small aerospace company back in the early 2000’s inspired many say by the popular movie October Sky. It got its biggest push in 2014 when Bezos pumped in $500 million of his own money into the venture. Today, we know it quite well as Blue Origin, as it competes with Tesla’s Elon Musk’s SpaceX with the mission of commercial space travel by creating spacecraft and reusable rockets that can allow people to travel to space and for space exploration. Regular tests and developments for the space vehicles is on. New Shephard is the reusable suborbital rocket system, New Glenn is the single configuration heavy-lift launch vehicle while Blue Moon are the landing systems for humans and cargo. Blue Origins could benefit from a more regular Bezos investment, much in the way SpaceX benefits from the involvement of Elon Musk.
Day One Fund: Helping The Homeless And Pushing Early Education Avenues
The other initiative that Jeff Bezos will be focusing on is the Bezos Day One Fund. This is a $2 billion initiative that works to fund non-profit organizations that help families struggling and homeless families and also funds the creation of non-profit tier-one preschools for low-income communities. The Day One Fund is working across the US, and some of the 42 fund recipients from 24 US states include Families Together in North Carolina, Housing Matters in California and Housing Up in Washington. “The Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities. We will build an organization to directly operate these preschools,” Bezos had said in the founding letter back in 2018.
Earth Fund: It Is Not Always Someone Else’s Weather
It was in February last year that Bezos took to Instagram to announce his new initiative—the Earth Fund. He committed as much as $10 billion for this, and later in the year, the 16 initial recipients of the funds were announced. As much as $791 million was donated to The Nature Conservancy, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund, among others. The idea behind the initiative is to fund research, science, activists and non-government organizations for projects that fight the effects of climate change.