Jeff Bezos quits as Amazon CEO

'This isn't about retiring': World's richest person makes shock announcement as company posts third consecutive quarter of record profit.

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Headshot of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

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Amazon.com Inc (NASDAQ: AMZN) founder Jeff Bezos will step down from the chief executive role he has held for the entire 27 years of the company's life.

The online retailer made the shock announcement while revealing its quarterly financial results on Wednesday morning Australian time.

In the third quarter of this year, Bezos will shift to the role of executive chair while cloud computing boss Andy Jassy will become the new chief executive.

Bezos, who is the world's wealthiest person, wrote in a memo to employees that this "isn't about retiring".

"Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it's consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it's hard to put attention on anything else," he said.

"As exec 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."

He added that when he started Amazon in the 1990s, it was "only an idea" and it had no name.

"The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, 'What's the internet?' Blessedly, I haven't had to explain that in a long while," he said.

"Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognised as one of the most successful companies in the world."

Bezos goes out as Amazon posts record results

Bezos definitely goes out on a high as a company famous for three decades of running in the red just posted its third consecutive quarter of record profit.

Amazon posted US$7.2 billion net income for the December quarter, up from US$3.3 billion one year earlier.

In the three months to December, Amazon's quarterly sales exceeded US$100 billion for the first time.

The online seller has been a major beneficiary of staying at home more due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Bezos attributed the current financial success as a cumulative effect of decades of bringing new ideas into the world.

"Amazon is what it is because of invention. We do crazy things together and then make them normal," said Bezos, naming innovations like personalised recommendations, Amazon Prime's fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, cloud computing.

"If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive."

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool’s board of directors. Tony Yoo owns shares of Amazon. The Motley Fool Australia's parent company Motley Fool Holdings Inc. owns shares of and recommends Amazon and recommends the following options: long January 2022 $1920 calls on Amazon and short January 2022 $1940 calls on Amazon. The Motley Fool Australia has recommended Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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