February 2, 2021
Amazon made the surprise announcement Tuesday that Founder Jeff Bezos will step down as CEO this summer and be succeeded by AWS chief Andy Jassy.
Bezos, who's been at the helm for 27 years, won't go too far away. He'll transition to Amazon's executive chair starting in the company's fiscal third quarter, which begins July 1.
Bezos signaled in a memo to employees that the move will allow him to pour his energy into projects such as the Day 1 Fund, The Washington Post (Bezos bought the paper in 2013), the Bezos Earth Fund and Blue Origin, Amazon's ambitious space-faring program.
"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," Bezos wrote.
The change also comes as Amazon attempts to make progress with Project Kuiper, a satellite broadband venture focused on launching hundreds of low-Earth orbit (LEO) satellites that has already tangled with Elon Musk's LEO-focused Starlink service at the FCC.
Sundar Pichai, head of fellow webscaling giant Alphabet/Google, tweeted his reaction to Amazon's big move.
We might have to wait a bit for Musk to weigh in:
Off Twitter for a while— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 2, 2021
Bezos's own paper predicted last fall that Jassy, who joined Amazon in 1997 and later turned AWS into a multi-billion-dollar cloud juggernaut, was Amazon's clear heir apparent.
"Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence," Bezos wrote.
Amazon revealed the big move up top in concert with fiscal Q4 results that saw net sales soar 44%, to $125.6 billion. Net income climbed to $7.2 billion, or $14.09 per diluted share, versus $3.3 billion, or $6.47 per share, in the year-ago period. Amazon shares made a small move in after-hours trading Tuesday, up $28 (0.83%) to $3,408 each at last check.
Here are a few snippets from the quarter:
Amazon announced plans for the second phase of construction of its headquarters in Arlington, Virginia. Amazon said it plans to build 2.8 million square feet of office space as part of its commitment to create 25,000 jobs and invest $2.5 billion in the community over the next decade.
Amazon said Q4 2020 generated the strongest viewership for live sports globally via Prime Video. In the US, the streaming service's coverage of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals game on December 26 drew an estimated 11.2 million total viewers and delivered the highest digital average-minute-audience ever for an NFL regular season game, it said.
Amazon's Fire TV now reaches more than 50 million monthly active users worldwide. Roku has a small lead, with 51.2 million active accounts at the end of 2020.
Amazon said recent progress for Project Kuiper included designs for a lightweight Ka-band phased array antenna that will be used in its customer terminal.
For fiscal Q1, Amazon expects net sales of $100 billion to $106 billion, which would be up 33% to 40%, respectively, year-on-year.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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