It will be one of the most closely viewed executive handoffs since Andy Jassy, who takes over as CEO of Amazon from Jeff Bezos on Monday, will be the highest.
A less publicized, but still very important, change is already underway at Amazon. In the last 18 months, dozens of Amazon executives have left after serving for more than a decade.
This is a rare level of disruption within the business. The number of vice presidents and senior executives who have resigned isn’t large. Amazon’s top leaders have been considered lifers for many years. Many of them had been with the company since its inception. They were loyal to Amazon because of its rising stock price, which often made them rich.
Bezos epitomized this relationship. Jeff Wilke, the global consumer business leader, and Steve Kessel (who ran its physical stores) were key players in this relationship. These leaders are no longer with us.
David Glick, ex-Amazon vice president and now chief technology officer at Flexe (a logistics startup), said that having Wilke and Bezos move so close together amounts to “epic, tectonic shifts.”
Wilke and Kessel have retired. However, many vice presidents are moving on to top positions at high-growth startups or public companies. Teresa Carlson, who built Amazon’s cloud services for the government over a decade, was appointed chief growth officer of Splunk in April. Greg Hart, who shadowed Bezos briefly and launched Alexa and Echo, now serves as chief product officer at Compass, a real estate company. Maria Renz is a senior executive at SoFi (a personal finance company) and another former Bezos shadow. Maria started at Amazon in 1999.
Bezos has been focusing less on Amazon’s day-to-day business in recent years and more on strategic ventures like Blue Origin, which gives his deputies greater autonomy. He will fly on the first human-crewed spaceflight for his rocket company, scheduled for July 20.
This article first appeared in The New York Times.