Amazon faces a great reset as Jeff Bezos does a Bill Gates

Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of internet giant Amazon, has decided it’s time to step back and spend more time with his other projects.

Bezos emailed the rest of the company to announce that he will become Executive Chairman later this year and be replaced as CEO by the current head of AWS, Andy Jassy. As the new job title implies, this isn’t a full step back by Bezos, yet, but it will free up time for him to devote to other projects, of which he has many.

“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,” impassioned Bezos. “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.”

Blue Origin is Bezos’s satellite initiative, and the Washington Post is the leftleaning newspaper Bezos acquired in 2013. The Day 1 Fund is a philanthropic venture that seeks to help impoverished American families and the Bezos Earth Fund is a general purpose eco fund that supports green initiatives Bezos approves of.

So it seems Bezos is performing a similar manoeuvre to that of fellow Seattle oligarch Bill Gates, who stepped down from the day-to-day running of Microsoft in 2008 in order to form his own philanthropic foundation. It’s probably not a coincidence that Bezos has picked the era of The Great Reset to free up his time and it will be interesting to see in which other directions his passions take him.

Gates, however, made the mistake of handing over the reins to someone with a massive stake in Microsoft’s legacy business of shifting boxed software and doing deals with PC OEMs. It was only when Ballmer was replaced by cloud guru Satya Nadella that Microsoft was able to fully move into the 21st century and consequently go from strength to strength.

Bezos may have had the Ballmer era in the back of his mind when he decided his replacement should come from the cloud, as opposed to e-commerce, side of things. AWS is where much of Amazon’s growth comes from and it’s far more profitable than the website, so it makes sense to promote talent from that side of the business. It seems Jassy was very instrumental in the success of AWS so it’s hard to question his credentials for the top job.

But Jassy doesn’t mind dabbling in a bit of socio-politics himself from time to time either, a tendency that will come under much greater scrutiny now that he’s been given the helm. AWS has already revealed a willingness to abandon its partners over political concerns and it will be interesting to see if that continues under Jassy.

He has only been on Twitter since he got the AWS CEO job five years ago and, while the majority of the 300-odd tweets he has managed since then are the standard corporate guff, there’s a smattering of socio-political stuff too, as you can see below. In fact, Jassy’s very first tweet was not about AWS but instead charter schools. Amazon seems set to move in an activist direction, but what will that mean for its day-to-day business decisions?

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