Sucharita Kodali, an e-commerce specialist at research firm Forrester, told me that Amazon could now potentially focus even more on AWS and combat his muscular competitors in cloud computing as well as in technology-heavy parts of the company such as digital advertising and hardware gadgets. It might focus less on food or fashion. “CEOs have favorite children,” said Kodali.
Bezos is still a power on the throne, but … Bezos won’t be sitting at home and eating potato chips. His new job title starting this summer, Chairman of the Board, implies that he will continue to play a huge role in the company, and Amazon said he would be involved in important decisions. Jassy is steeped in Bezos’ Amazon brand, and institutions often have an inertia that persists no matter who is responsible.
But make no mistake: this is a changing of the guard, as my colleague Karen Weise wrote. Companies don’t stay the same when their founders no longer take responsibility. Amazon may still be Bezos’ company, but I’d bet it will get less over time.
Goodbye or the long goodbye? There are two ways to leave the job as CEO: the former boss stays with it – at least for a while – to ease the transition and offer advice, or he disappears. Amazon does the former as does Disney and Oracle. Uber did the latter and Microsoft did one each.
It’s hard to know which path is best, but founders cast a long shadow. Google must have suffered when its co-founder Larry Page stayed above bosses as an amorphous boss for years retired from the CEO post in 2015. When Satya Nadella took over Microsoft, it looked like his predecessors Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates would still be involved in decision-making. It was better for him and Microsoft that they quietly step back instead.
Why now? Bezos is so admired that he has been able to get involved with side projects like space travel. Buy a newspaper, grab a roll in a “Star Trek” movie, play competitive badminton and run Amazon the way it wanted. (One of the ones I made up.) Bezos says he’d like to pay more attention now to futuristic projects and his other interests, but Elon Musk did and remained the CEO of Tesla.