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Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon CEO: What's his Amazon legacy?



During a conversation with Jeff Bezos at the company’s Seattle headquarters in 2013, I asked Amazon’s CEO about his legacy, and about being on the Mount Rushmore of tech (along with Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Larry Page.)


I'm flattered,” Bezos said. “But I don't spend any time thinking about it that way. I very much think about the future, and I don't spend any time thinking about the past. I'm having fun, and I love my job. I love the fact that we here as a team at Amazon have so many people counting on us, customers, shareholders, we count on each other. It's very motivating to wake up in the morning and know that there are a bunch of people counting on you and that they want you to invent pieces of the future — show me something new."


On Tuesday, Amazon announced that Bezos will be leaving the job he loves in the third quarter of 2021, though he'll be sticking around in the role of executive chairman, where It is fair to assume he will continue to have a major voice in Amazon's corporate and strategic decisions moving forward. He'll be succeeded by Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy.


As for retaining that voice, Bezos pretty much intimated as much in an email announcing the change (as seen by The Verge).


“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” the email read. “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.”


Bezos was about to assume ownership of the Post during my 2013 interview with him. He insisted that the newspaper would be kept separate from Amazon (which it has), while adding “if the two companies can help each other, of course they would, but they would do that the way any two companies would if they could find some mutual (benefit)."


Bezos poured plenty of resources into the Post, which has done quite nicely under his leadership, even during turbulent times for the newspaper industry.


Amazon meanwhile has maintained its powerhouse status and then some. It remains the undisputed champion of e-commerce, a major force in web services, and, via Amazon Prime, a significant player in subscription-based streaming, even with plenty of competition from the likes of Netflix and Disney.


The annual Amazon Prime Day shopping holiday has become quite a thing. And, oh yeah, Amazon introduced a new voice into millions of households, a chatty digital assistant you may have heard of named Alexa.


Of course, not everything Bezos has touched these past many years has turned to gold. Amazon’s Fire smartphone flopped. Amazon continues to confront potential scrutiny from labor unions and antitrust regulators, even under the new Biden Administration.


Bezos himself has a reputation of being a demanding boss, one who has been accused of creating a brutally cutthroat workforce culture at Amazon.


Through all of this, his personal wealth has swelled exponentially, no matter if last month CNBC reported that Bezos, with a net worth at the time of $184 billion, was now the second richest person in the world, having been surpassed by Tesla’s Elon Musk. Both men, of course, are passionate about--and rivals--when it comes to the entrepreneurial space travel business, Bezos with Blue Origin and Musk with SpaceX.


It is back here on Earth though that we’ll get to see what a post-Bezos-as-CEO-led Amazon will look like. And determine how, if at all, it impacts his legacy.


How do you view Bezos' tenure? Email: edbaig@gmail.com; Follow @edbaig on Twitter

Photo above supplied by Amazon