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Amazon’s incoming CEO: Who is Andy Jassy?

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Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of Amazon Web Services. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)
Andy Jassy, chief executive officer of Amazon Web Services. (Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg)

Amazon will have a new chief executive after founder Jeff Bezos formally steps down from the position later this year.

Andy Jassy, currently the CEO of Amazon Web Services, the e-commerce giant’s cloud computing business, will be promoted to fill Bezos’ shoes come the third quarter of 2021.

He has already received glowing praise from Bezos, who said he has his “full confidence” in Jassy’s abilities.

“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have,” Bezos said. “He will be an outstanding leader.”

Here’s what we know about him.

He’s a Harvard graduate

Twice. He graduated with honours from Harvard College, and during his time there was advertising manager of its daily student newspaper, The Harvard Crimson, before going on to get an MBA from Harvard Business School.

All up, he was at Harvard for 11 years, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He was once Bezos’ assistant

He joined Amazon straight out of Harvard in 1997 as a marketing manager for the tech giant.

Then in 2014, Jassy – who was Bezos’ technical assistant at the time – had the idea to rent out computing storage over the internet.

He told Bezos about the idea, and now Amazon Web Services – which Jassy still heads – is worth around US$400 billion, Forbes estimates.

He’s been described by CNBC anchor Jon Fortt as “the father of the cloud business”.

“He and his team also essentially invented the business of cloud computing, and upended the tech world in the process,” Fortt wrote.

But apparently, Jassy wasn’t actually too keen on being Bezos’ assistant in the beginning.

"It was a very undefined role," he said. "When I talked to Jeff about it, I said, 'Well, what's the goal of the role?' He said, 'Well, the goal is for me to get to know you better, and for you to get to know me better, and to build some trust.' And I thought, Well that's interesting, but it doesn't sound like a mission."

Jassy also dares to dream big: he sees Amazon Web Services becoming the world’s biggest enterprise cloud computing company.

“I think that if we are able to accomplish the right type of customer experience and continue to build what customers ask us over time, as the market moves more and more toward cloud, I think we have the chance to be the largest enterprise company in the world.”

He’s been at Amazon for more than 23 years now. And his dedication to his job shows: his Tweets are all about AWS.

He’s nicknamed a conference room the ‘Chop’

A conference room outside his office has its own nickname, as the home of where he makes key business decisions and ‘chops’ ideas down to size, Insider reported.

But ‘Chop’ is also apparently used to describe any important meeting one might have with Jassy. Known as one of the nicest of Amazon’s executives, he can smell a bluff a mile away, according to former AWS director Scott Chancellor.

"He doesn't suffer foolishness. If you're not prepared for a meeting with him in the Chop, and especially if you try to mask that lack of preparedness with smooth talking, he'll know and he will make it clear."

And if you stuff it up once, that’s it for you, at least for a while. “People who don't do their best in those meetings won't get a second shot, at least not for a long time.”

The conference room is used for teams to present new products and ideas, and apparently teams practice their presentation for months.

Jassy also prefers to look at his documents on physical paper, placed together in a manila folder.

Industry insiders already think he’ll do well

“Absolutely seamless transition.” That’s what Moody’s Charlie O’Shea told Yahoo Finance US about Jassy stepping into Bezos’ role.

And it’s not like Bezos is going anywhere in a hurry, either, with Amazon’s overall strategy likely to stay the same.

“[Bezos] is still very much involved in the overall strategy of the company, he’s the largest shareholder … There’s a whole lot of things that will keep him wedded to the company.

“Andy has done a terrific job with AWS, the numbers bear that out. AWS continues to be the profit engine of the company, and supports the retail businesses.

“This is just a succession plan that’s been in the works for a while, in my view,” O’Shea said.

He’s not a billionaire (yet)

But he isn’t exactly slumming it, either: according to wallmine, his estimated net worth is US$394 million. He owns US$280 million worth of Amazon stock and earns US$348,809 as CEO of Amazon Web Services.

He’s also a hockey fan: Jassy is a minority owner of professional ice hockey team, the Seattle Kraken.

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