Jeff Bezos to Step Down as Amazon CEO; Andy Jassy Moves Up

Andy Jassy (left), current CEO of Amazon Web Services, will take over as Amazon CEO when Jeff Bezos steps down in the third quarter of 2021. Both are pictured in FRONTLINE’s 2020 film “Amazon Empire.”

Andy Jassy (left), current CEO of Amazon Web Services, will take over as Amazon CEO when Jeff Bezos steps down in the third quarter of 2021. Both are pictured in FRONTLINE’s 2020 film “Amazon Empire.”

February 2, 2021

Nearly three decades after he founded Amazon, Jeff Bezos will step down from his role as the commercial juggernaut’s chief executive and “transition to the role of Executive Chair,” the company announced on Feb. 2.

“Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition,” Bezos said in a statement. In a message to employees published by the company, Bezos said his new role would involve a focus on “new products and early initiatives.”

“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,” the message said.

Andy Jassy, currently the CEO of Amazon Web Services, will become CEO when Bezos steps aside in the third quarter of 2021, the announcement said.

In February 2020, FRONTLINE released a two-hour documentary investigating how Bezos turned Amazon from a tiny bookseller run out of a garage into a business empire that is without precedent in the history of American capitalism.

Based on a year of reporting from a team led by James Jacoby and Anya Bourg, Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos raised tough questions about privacy, worker treatment and the cost of Amazon’s convenience. The documentary also revealed how the company is shaping consumers’ lives in ways that go far beyond commerce and examined questions about whether it was doing so in anticompetitive ways.

The documentary featured an interview with Jassy, excerpts of which are available online, on key issues facing the now-nearly-1.7-trillion-dollar company — including calls to break it up: “Simply because the company’s been successful in a few different business segments doesn’t mean it’s somehow too big,” Jassy said.

Jassy also defended the sale of Amazon’s facial recognition technology to law enforcement, a thread explored in the documentary: “We believe that governments and the organizations that are charged with keeping our communities safe have to have access to the most sophisticated, modern technology that exists,” Jassy said at the time. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s killing, Amazon announced a moratorium on the use of its facial recognition technology by police.

Stream Amazon Empire: The Rise and Reign of Jeff Bezos in its entirety below and read and watch interview excerpts with Jassy.

Patrice Taddonio

Patrice Taddonio, Digital Writer & Audience Development Strategist, FRONTLINE



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