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David Ryder/Getty Images

Andy Jassy, currently the head of Amazon Web Services, will take over as CEO in the fall.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO of the company he founded a quarter of a century ago, a monumental change atop one of America’s most iconic and powerful companies.

Amazon made the announcement on Tuesday that its CEO — who has led the company since he founded it — would become its executive chairman, and that day-to-day operations beginning this fall would be overseen by the head of Amazon Web Services, Andy Jassy.

Bezos, until recently the world’s richest man, said he would remain involved in Amazon leadership but would now have more time to pursue his other passions outside of the company.

“In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” Bezos said in a letter to employees on Tuesday afternoon. “As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.”

Bezos founded Amazon in 1994 as an online bookstore, but over two decades would expand it into America’s foremost digital retailer, turning the scrappy company into a tech giant that makes Hollywood blockbusters, has created its own apparel, and powers corporate America with it Amazon Web Services (AWS). Amazon now is one of America’s largest private employers, has a market cap of over $1 trillion, and has become mired in antitrust scrutiny and questions about its market dominance.

Alongside the company’s rise, Bezos himself became an icon of sorts for a data-obsessed management style, which is memorialized in a series of leadership principles he called The Amazon Way. And in the runup to becoming the world’s richest man, Bezos developed a public profile that went far beyond his Amazon activities: Bezos went on to buy the Washington Post; pour his fortune into Blue Origin, a private spacecraft company; and even was the target of a hack believed to be perpetrated by the government of Saudi Arabia.

Author: Theodore Schleifer

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