Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will step down from his role as chief executive later this year and transition to the role of executive chair, the company said Tuesday. He will be replaced by Andy Jassy.
Bezos has been Amazon's CEO since its founding in 1995. He oversaw its growth from an online bookseller into a $1.7 trillion global retail and logistics behemoth, which has also made Bezos into one of the world's richest people. Jassy has worked for Amazon since 1997 and currently serves as CEO of the company's cloud business, Amazon Web Services, which is its biggest profit driver.
Bezos said in a letter to employees Tuesday that he is excited for the transition.
"Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it's consuming," Bezos wrote. "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."
The news came as part of Amazon's fourth-quarter earnings report. The company handily beat Wall Street analysts' projections for both sales and profit, capping a banner year as the pandemic boosted both its retail and cloud businesses.
The company's shares were essentially flat in after-hours trading Tuesday following the news. Amazon's stock has grown nearly 69% over the past year.
Amazon posted quarterly net sales of $125.6 billion, up 44% from the same period in the prior year and well ahead of the $119.7 billion Wall Street analysts had projected.
Net income in the quarter hit $7.2 billion — nearly double the $3.7 billion Wall Street predicted and more than double the $3.3 billion in income the company earned in the year-ago quater. Earnings per diluted share were $14.09.
The quarterly results include sales from Prime Day, which was held October 13-14 after being postponed over the summer because of the pandemic.
As for the full year, Amazon reported net sales increased 38% to $386.1 billion, more than $6 billion more than analysts had projected. Net income for 2020 reached $21.3 billion, or $41.83 per diluted share, an increase of nearly 84% from a year earlier.