Jeff Bezos is stepping down as head of Amazon amid praise for his "brilliance" and 150,000 signatures calling for him not to return to Earth, exactly 27 years after founding it. Amazon's new CEO, as of 5 July is Andy Jassy, has been Jeff Bezos' shadow since he joined the company in 1997.
He retired as CEO of Amazon with the following words: "Being the CEO of Amazon is a great and all-consuming responsibility. When you have a responsibility like that, it's hard to pay attention to anything else. As CEO, I will continue to be involved in important Amazon initiatives, but I will also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post and my other passions. I've never had more energy and it's not about retirement. I'm very passionate about the impact I think these organisations can have.
Bezos' leadership and business management skills have set him apart from his rivals. Now Jassy faces the daunting challenge of living up to one of the most extraordinary business minds of the last few decades. He has been CEO of Amazon Web Services since 2016, so he seems qualified for the job. On the Amazon news blog, when Bezos was announcing his retirement as CEO he said of Jassy that "Andy is well known within the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader and has my full confidence".
One of the key characteristics of Bezos' leadership is that he has always approached business with the long term in mind. His relentless desire to improve the customer experience is the cornerstone on which the company is built, and the fundamental reason why it has been so successful. It was in 2004 when he and his technical advisor Colin Bryan went to the city of Tacoma, south of Seattle, to visit Amazon's customer service centre. They spent two days there as customer service agents in order to perfect the service.
At the time, Amazon was already a multi-billion dollar company. At the time, Bezos was frustrated, they kept getting complaints about a particular product. It was clear that there was something wrong with the product, but it had not been reported. Later that day, he sent an email asking for more effective ways to report defective products.
The Bezos Day 1 fund seeks to make significant and lasting impacts in two areas: funding existing nonprofits that help homeless families and creating a network of new levels of nonprofits. In addition, the fund issues annual leadership awards to organisations and civic groups doing compassionate and inspiring work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families. It is also building a network of high-quality, Montessori-inspired preschools with full scholarships in underserved communities.
The Washington Post newspaper was acquired by Bezos in 2013, Jeff Bezos for $250 million. According to the New York Times, he bought the paper because he wanted to make it the most powerful publication nationally, even globally, and because the paper was well positioned to be a watchdog to keep an eye on the leaders of the world's most powerful country.
Bezos Earth Fund is a partner fund of The Solutions Project to accelerate the transition to 100% clean energy and equitable access to healthy air, water and land. The Solutions Project advocates for and invests in a climate justice movement that focuses on women and power-building organisations led by black, indigenous, immigrant and other people of colour.
Blue Origin is perhaps Bezos' most controversial business. The company is committed to building a path to space. Jeff Bezos and his brother Mark will be aboard the New Shepard on the first manned flight on 20 July, named after Alan Shepard, the second human and first American to go into space.
The third seat in the capsule was auctioned off and sold for $28 million. Aviation pioneer Wally Funk will fly into space on New Shepard's first human flight as a guest of honour.