Amazon.com Inc. has announced the departure of famed CEO Jeff Bezos, which is planned for later this year.
The e-commerce behemoth, which today reported its Q4 2020 financial report, shared in a statement that its billionaire founder will transition to the role of executive chair of the company’s board in the third quarter. Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy has been named his successor.
“Amazon is what it is because of invention. If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn,” Bezos said in a statement accompanying the earnings results. “That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.”
He added, “When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention. Right now, I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
In a letter to employees, Bezos added that he intends to stay engaged in “new products and early initiatives” at Amazon, while spending more time to focus on the Bezos Earth Fund, The Washington Post and the Amazon Day 1 Fund, as well as Blue Origin, the privately-held aerospace manufacturer and spaceflight services firm that he established two decades ago.
Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore back in 1994. Since then, it has exploded into a mega e-commerce and tech titan, surpassing a $1 trillion market cap last January. That was before the COVID-19 pandemic touched down in the United States, which decimated hundreds of thousands of stores across the country but allowed Amazon to build on its profits. Due to its status as an essential retailer, the company was able to operate through government-mandated closures and saw a spike in demand for everyday goods, household products and groceries. It was also able to capitalize on the accelerated shift to online shopping and emphasize categories (like athletic and casual wear) that catered to work- and play-from-home needs.
For the full year, the Seattle-based retailer’s revenues increased 38% to $386.1 billion. Its profits also shot up to $21.3 billion, or $41.83 per diluted share, compared with the prior year’s $11.6 billion, or $23.01 per diluted share. It predicted sales to grow between 33% and 40% to the range of $100 billion and $106 billion in the first quarter, while operating income is expected to be between $3 billion and $6.5 billion, compared with $4 billion last year.