Twenty-seven years to the day after he incorporated the company he co-founded, Jeff Bezos has retired as CEO of Amazon, handing over the reins to Andy Jassy, head of the company’s cloud computing division.
Bezos told employees and shareholders his plans to step down back in February, naming Jassy his successor and announcing he would still have an active role with the company as executive chair, where he will keep focusing on his and the company’s many side initiatives, including space exploration, combating climate change and philanthropy.
“As executive 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,” Bezos said at the time, noting that, “I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring.”
The date was chosen because of the symbolism, as Bezos incorporated the company on July 5, 1994.
An electrical engineer and computer programmer by training, Bezos worked on Wall Street after his university days, including at one firm where he met his future wife, MacKenzie. The pair would marry in 1993.
The pair dreamed of starting an online business, although they were not sure what to sell at first.
Bezos quickly determined that an online bookstore would resonate with consumers, so he and MacKenzie set out on a road trip to Seattle — a city chosen for its abundance of tech talent and proximity to a large book distributor in Roseburg, Ore.
While MacKenzie drove, Bezos wrote up the business plan for what would become Amazon.com. Bezos convinced his parents and some friends to invest in the idea, and Amazon began operating out of the couple’s Seattle garage the next year.
The company was unprofitable for several years, before expanding into e-commerce, server hosting and other initiatives. Today, Jassy takes over a company that is worth more than $1.7 trillion US, and took in almost $400 billion in revenue last year.