5 things you need to know about Andy Jassy, the new CEO of Amazon

After serving 27 years as chief executive over at Amazon, Jeff Bezos is handing the reins over to the company’s current CEO of Web Services (AWS), Andy Jassy. 

Jassy joined the massive multinational tech firm back in 1997 as a marketing manager. He, alongside colleagues from Harvard Business School (including Bezos), was instrumental in making Amazon a giant in digital commerce.

As the company secured more and more turf in this arena (eventually surpassing Google as the most profitable cloud computing organization), Bezos increasingly came under scrutiny with respect to Amazon’s fiduciary duties; most frequently from workers looking to organize labor unions and lawmakers who alleged antitrust violations.

As of 2021, Amazon houses 1.3 million employees and is valued at $1.7 trillion. AWS is worth $45 all on its own. 

It would be reasonable to assume that Jassy will be shouldering the bulk of the criticism and managerial responsibilities Bezos will leave behind when he officially steps down this summer, so here are a few things to keep in mind. 

Who is Andy Jassy?

“Andy is very much part of the whole culture. I really do think it will be a strong continuation.” – Tom Alberg, a managing partner at Madrona Venture Group and former Amazon board member

Jassy was born in Scarsdale, N.Y. in 1968. Although he’s demonstrated a natural talent for business throughout his academic life, he initially dreamed of being a sports broadcaster.

At Harvard, Jassy majored in government while contributing finance essays to The Harvard Crimson. Three years after Amazon went public, Jassy joined the company; making it his first job after graduating. 

“I took my last final exam at (Harvard Business School) the first Friday in May in 1997, and I started at Amazon the next Monday,” Jassy in a recent edition of The Capitalist’s Dilemma podcast. “I didn’t know what my job was going to be and what group I was going to work in and what my title was going to be.”

While Jassy was relatively new at Amazon, he was given the role of Bezos’ brain double. In the service of continued innovation, the company wanted their top dogs to be challenged by subordinates that showed promise. This subsumed shadowing conference calls, daily operations and meetings. It didn’t take long for Jassy to be paired with Amazon’s founder. 

Those who worked closely with the two men at the time have likened Jassy’s position to that of an intellectual sparring partner for Bezos.

“I thought that I had very high standards before I started that job,” Jassy continued. “Then, in doing that shadow job, I realized that my standards weren’t high enough.”

This indicates that Jassy will likely realize a similar vision as Bezos’s. According to Nicholas McQuire, an analyst at CCS consulting, Jassy is the only person capable of replicating the formula that made Amazon a prime contender in e-commerce, cloud computing, digital streaming, and artificial intelligence.

In addition to learning directly from Bezos, he and Jassy developed the AWS cloud computing platform Amazon utilizes to this day together. It was solely Jassy’s decision that led Amazon into the music business. 

“ If you’d asked me yesterday what I thought the timeline would be of Jeff stepping down as CEO, I would not have guessed now. But if you’d said, ‘Okay, he’s stepping down, who will he choose?’ the first, instant name out of my mouth would be Andy Jassy, Ann Hiatt told CNN  business.

“I watched him blossom into this beautiful complimentary executive to Jeff, where he learned to anticipate the questions Jeff would ask, the things he would hate, the things he would love, his leadership style,” Bezos’s former executive business partner. While Andy, of course, has his own fantastic version of executive, he was trained with those instincts, to prioritize the things that Jeff would and make decisions the same way Jeff would when he’s not in the room. Obviously, he’s taken that on to great heights in his role as CEO of AWS.”

During his 24 year-long-tenure with the company, Jassy brought it to Bezos’ attention that their product teams were devoting a significant amount of time designing their own infrastructure as opposed to developing new innovative products.

This awareness led Amazon to totally reboot its technology systems so that different development teams could operate using the same basic tech platforms. According to insiders, AWS, which is the division Jassy led for the majority of his tenure at Amazon, is the most lucrative branch at the company. 

It remains to be seen how Jassy will handle the litigations ramping up among labor unions and some members of Congress, but there isn’t much reason to doubt Jassy’s fidelity to Bezos’s managerial style. Moreover, Jassy is one of the primary architects of Amazon’s presence on the digital stage. It should be noted that Bezos will be taking on the role of executive chairman

“He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence,” Bezos said in a letter addressed to the company. 

“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. 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.”

Jassy will replace Jeff Bezos as CEO of Amazon in the third quarter of 2021.