Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to step down as CEO, transition to executive chair role

Amazon announced Tuesday its founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO. 

Bezos will transition to the role of executive chair, and Andy Jassy will become the next CEO of Amazon, the company said. Jazzy is currently the CEO of Amazon’s cloud business.

Bezos, 57, also sent a letter to his employees announcing the transition, which is expected to take place in Amazon’s third quarter of 2021. An exact date was not given.

Bezos, who founded Amazon nearly 30 years ago, said Jassy is well-known inside the company and has been there "almost as long as I have." 

"He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence," Bezos wrote. 

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Bezos went on to say he is excited about the transition and that he will focus his energies and attention on new products in his executive chair role. 

"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. 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. 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," he wrote. 

Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore and turned it into a behemoth that sells just about everything. In the process, he became one of the world's richest people.

Launched in 1995, Amazon was a pioneer of fast and free shipping that won over millions of shoppers who used the site to buy diapers, TVs and just about anything. Under Bezos, Amazon also launched the first e-reader that gained mass acceptance, and its Echo listening device made voice assistants a more common sight in many living rooms.

As a child, Bezos was intrigued by computers and interested in building things, such as alarms he rigged in his parents’ home. He got a degree in electrical engineering and computer science at Princeton University, and then worked at several Wall Street companies.

He quit his job at D.E. Shaw to start an online retail business — though at first he wasn’t sure what to sell. Bezos quickly determined that an online bookstore would resonate with consumers. He and his wife, MacKenzie, whom he met at D.E. Shaw and married in 1993, set out on a road trip to Seattle — a city chosen for its abundance of tech talent and proximity to a large book distributor in Roseburg, Oregon.

While MacKenzie drove, Bezos wrote up the business plan for what would become Bezos convinced his parents and some friends to invest in the idea, and Amazon began operating out of the Bezos’ Seattle garage on July 16, 1995.

This story was reported from Detroit. The Associated Press contributed.