Jeff Bezos retires as Amazon CEO to focus on space exploration firmEuropost
Jeff Bezos, 57, will hand over the job of Amazon chief executive on Monday to Andy Jassy and turn his attention to his private space exploration firm, philanthropy and other endeavors. He will retain a key role, however, as executive chair at the technology and e-commerce colossus he founded 27 years ago, AFP reported.
The transition comes after a spectacular streak for Amazon, which has drawn attention for its innovations. But the firm has also been vilified over business practices that have crushed competitors and raised concerns over treatment of a workforce of more than one million.
"Bezos has been a transformational leader... in book selling, the retail market, cloud computing and home delivery," Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation, said. "He pointed out that Bezos was “a pioneer who introduced many of the conveniences that people take for granted, such as going to an online store, ordering something, and having it delivered to your home the next day. The whole e-commerce sector owes many of its innovations to this individual."
In public appearances, Bezos often recounts the early days at Amazon, started in his garage, when he packed up orders himself and drove boxes to the post office.
Today, Amazon has a market value of more than $1.7 trillion. It posted 2020 annual revenues of $386 billion from operations in e-commerce, cloud computing, groceries, artificial intelligence, streaming media and more.
Bezos will step away from day-to-day Amazon management to spend more time on projects including his space firm Blue Origin, which is set to take him into space later this month. He owns the Washington Post newspaper and has devoted time and funds to efforts to fight climate change, while also facing criticism after recent reports that he paid no income tax at all some years.
Bezos departure leaves questions about the future of Amazon as it faces a torrent of regulatory scrutiny and criticism from activists. US lawmakers are considering a measure that would make it easier to break up Amazon, amid concerns that a handful of Big Tech firms have become too dominant, hurting competition in a way that eventually harms consumers.
Amazon was well-positioned during the coronavirus pandemic with its fast delivery of goods and groceries, and boosted its US workforce to more than 800,000.
While the company has boasted of its $15 minimum wage and other benefits, critics say its relentless focus on efficiency and worker surveillance has treated employees like machines.
The Teamsters union recently launched a campaign to organize Amazon employees, claiming its workers "face dehumanizing, unsafe and low-pay jobs, with high turnover and no voice at work.