Amazon founder and current CEO Jeff Bezos will be transitioning to executive chair of the company sometime in Q3 of this year, with current AWS CEO Andy Jassy taking over the top executive role at the commerce company. Amazon announced the news alongside its earnings results on Tuesday.
Amazon initially rose after-hours as the market digested both the company’s earnings and its CEO news. The company beat on both earnings per share and revenues. That makes it hard to untangle the market’s response to its busy set of announcements. Update: Amazon shares have now dipped into negative territory as investors had more time to parse the company’s total collection of announcements.
Amazon crushed earnings-per-share and revenue expectations in Q4 2020. So, any investor worried about the exit of Bezos from the CEO chair were given some measure of of performance-based amelioration. Amazon’s quarter was its first to break the $100 billion mark, bringing in $125.6 billion in revenue against an anticipated $119.7 billion. And, the company’s $14.09 per share in earnings was nearly double an expected $7.23.
Jassy has been identified previously as the likely successor to Bezos, after leading Amazon Web Services (AWS) to the success it currently enjoys as a leader in the cloud computing space. AWS grew its revenues by 28% in the quarter, lower than its year-ago growth rate of 34%. AWS’s net revenues expanded from $9.95 in the year-ago Q4 to $12.74 billion during the fourth quarter of 2020. Operating income at AWS scaled as well, from $2.6 billion in Q4 2019 to $3.56 billion in the most recent quarter.
Notably Microsoft’s Azure business grew 50% in its most recent earnings period.
Bezos sent an email to Amazon employees, which the company also released publicly on its blog on Tuesday following the announcement. In the missive, he says that while he continues to “find [his] work meaningful and fun,” he wants to be able to devote proper time and attention to his “Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and [his] other passions.”
Blue Origin, Bezos’ space company, has achieved a lot to date, and regularly flies suborbital missions with its New Shepard launch vehicle. This coming year will be a busy one for the space company, since it should likely begin flying people on New Shepard for the first time.
In addition to its own human spaceflight goals, Blue Origin is currently developing a human lunar landing system for NASA, in partnership with other space industry leaders. It’s also working on another launch vehicle, New Glenn, which will be a heavy-lift class rocket capable of delivering payloads to orbit. So there’s a lot going on, there, too. Bezos has previously referred to Blue Origin as the “most important work that he’s doing” because of the scale of its potential impact on the future of humanity.