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Jeff Bezos ’86 steps down as Amazon CEO

<h5>Jeff Bezos in 2018.</h5>
<h6>Courtesy of Grant Miller / <a href="https://www.bushcenter.org/about-the-center/newsroom/press-releases/2017/11/jeff-bezos-forum-on-leadership.html" target="_self">The George W. Bush Presidential Center</a></h6>
Jeff Bezos in 2018.
Courtesy of Grant Miller / The George W. Bush Presidential Center

Notable for being one of the world’s richest people and overseeing the creation and transformation of the lucrative e-commerce and technology company Amazon, Jeff Bezos ’86 announced on Feb. 2 that he would be stepping down from his central role as CEO of Amazon. 

According to the company’s press release, Bezos will be succeeded by Andy Jassy, the chief of Amazon’s cloud computing division, which accounts for about 60% of Amazon’s annual financial revenue. Bezos will adopt the role of Executive Chair during the third quarter of 2021.

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In a parting email to Amazon employees, Bezos affirmed the success that Amazon has enjoyed over the years since its inception:

“The journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name,” he wrote. “Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful businesses in the world.”

Bezos has affirmed his desire to continue investing in the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, and the Day One Fund, the latter of which strives to reduce the burdens of homelessness and establish preschools in low-income communities. 

In his parting memo, Bezos expressed his enthusiasm for his post-CEO endeavors.

“I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have,” he wrote. 

Bezos concentrated in electrical engineering and computer science at the University before working on Wall Street in related fields for nearly 10 years. In 1994, Bezos founded Amazon, which began as an online bookstore but rapidly expanded its offerings to a plethora of other products and services and ultimately transformed into an e-commerce giant that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue on a daily basis.

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Amazon shattered records in 2020 when it became the first company ever to garner $1 billion in daily sales. Due to the increased difficulty of shopping at physical store locations because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon’s economic dominance and cultural impact have continued to surge tremendously over the past year. This trend displays no signs of abating, according to the company’s recent financial assessments of 2020 sales.

During his tenure as CEO of Amazon, Bezos became the first person worth more than $200 billion. Bezos has come under fire in recent years for his lack of extensive charitable philanthropy despite his immense wealth; Bezos is the sole American of the world’s five richest people who has yet to sign onto the Giving Pledge, a commitment in which stakeholders promise to donate more than half of their total wealth over the course of their lives. Bezos’ ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott ’92, has signed the Giving Pledge and recently gifted donations ranging upward of $800 million to historically Black colleges and universities, among other institutions of higher education.

Bezos’ charitable donations have constituted a diminutive proportion of his total net worth, with some of his recipients including the Princeton Neuroscience Institute (which received $15 million for the construction of the Bezos Center for Neural Circuit Dynamics in 2011) and TheDream.Us, a non-profit that received nearly $33 million in 2018 to fund scholarships for Dreamers protected under DACA. 

Although Bezos announced a record-high donation of $10 billion to the Bezos Earth Fund, which seeks to counter the effects of climate change, some critics have argued that this amount nevertheless represents a negligible portion of the centibillionaire’s wealth relative to the amount of money he is capable of donating. 

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The working conditions of Amazon employees have also received widespread public coverage over the course of Bezos’ tenure as CEO of the company. Although Amazon warehouse workers receive a minimum wage that is twice as much as the federal minimum wage standard, former employees have revealed that they operated under excruciating conditions and widespread monitoring technologies that sought to maximize workers’ productivity at the expense of their physical and mental wellbeing. After numerous employee strikes, Amazon has placed an increased emphasis on the welfare of its employees by doling out increased bonuses, among other benefits.

In addition to founding Amazon, Bezos has also pursued other enterprises, such as his spaceflight and aerospace manufacturing company Blue Origin, which has forthcoming plans to begin commercial suborbital human spaceflights within the next couple of decades. Moreover, Bezos owns The Washington Post, which he purchased in 2013. 

The Daily Princetonian reached out to Amazon for comment and was directed to the press release by a company spokesperson.

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