Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos will step down as chief executive of the company he founded more than 25 years ago, the online retailer announced Thursday.
Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services, will take the reins as CEO beginning in the third quarter, while Bezos will become executive chairman, Amazon said.
In a memo to employees posted on Amazon's blog, Bezos said he was giving up the CEO role to focus on other ventures, including the Bezos Climate Fund, the Washington Post and Blue Origin, Bezos' space flight company.
"We've done crazy things together, and then made them normal," Bezos wrote, outlining a list of Amazon innovations: "Customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime's insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more."
Retail experts said Mr. Bezos will continue to play an important role with Amazon even as he steps back from running the company day to day.
"While the new position is big news, the truth is that Mr. Bezos will remain fully involved with the company," Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said in note. "Indeed, as part of his new role Bezos will be able to focus more on new ideas — something in which he excels. He will also still be around to guide the company and ensure that it does not lose its innovative edge."
Amazon's stock has been on a tear since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, and is up 60% from a year ago. The surge has boosted Bezos' personal fortune, making him the second-wealthiest person in the world, with a net worth of $188 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.
As head of AWS, Jassy helms an increasingly important part of Amazon's business. The cloud-computing service made up just 12% of Amazon's sales last year, but accounted for more than half of the company's profit, according to earnings figures Amazon posted Tuesday. AWS' thousands of clients include Capital One, Coca-Cola, Intuit and Netflix.
This is a developing story. Aimee Picchi contributed reporting.
This article was originally published on CBSNews.com on Feb. 2, 2020.