Well, today is a rather remarkable day in the history of capitalism. Jeff Bezos, founder and CEO of Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is about to step down as CEO of the company he founded back in 1994. He first announced his resignation back in February.
The end of Mr Bezos’ stewardship of Amazon, now one of the largest companies in the world, marks a turning point for the man. Amazon has made Bezos the richest person in the world, and by quite a mile. Today, according to Forbes, his net wealth stands at almost US$202 billion. That’s well in front of his next competitor in Bernard Arnault at US$189 billion, as well as from Tesla Inc (NASDAQ: TSLA) CEO Elon Musk at US$167 billion. Musk briefly overtook Bezos as ‘world’s richest person’ last year amid a soaring Tesla stock price.
But Bezos has since claimed back the mantle, and leaves Amazon back on the top of the global wealth pile. And that’s despite a highly-publicised divorce last year which saw his now ex-wife Mackenzie receive a quarter of Bezos’ Amazon shares. Bezos first became a billionaire in 1998, which Forbes points out was a year that saw an average Amazon share price of US$7.47. Today, those same Amazon shares are worth US$3,511 apiece.
So what now for Bezos and Amazon?
So what is Bezos up to now, since he is leaving running his ‘baby’? And who is in charge at Amazon now? After all, an Aussie who was born in the same year as Amazon entered this world would be 27 years old today. So this is quite a change. So here’s what Bezos said when he initially announced his resignation as Amazon CEO back in February:
Amazon is what it is because of invention. We do crazy things together and then make them normal… 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. 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.
But Bezos is not leaving Amazon entirely. He is “transitioning” to the role of Executive Chair, a role with undoubtedly less ‘hands-on’ responsibility at the company, but still an important role nonetheless. His replacement as Amazon CEO is Andy Jassy, who, until now, was the chief executive of the company’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) division.
So what’s Bezos up to now? Well, according to Forbes, Bezos is now turning his time to his charities in the Bezos Day One Fund and the Bezos Earth Fund. He is also expected to be working at his other company – hopeful space explorer Blue Origin. In a tight race with Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, Bezos is expected to go to space himself on 20 July. Perhaps his ambitions have exceeded what Earth, or Amazon, can offer him.