Amazon founder Jeff Bezos will be replaced by Andy Jassy, who will take over the top spot of the company during the third quarter of this year.
Mr Bezos will still be a part of the company that he founded in 1994 and will transition to executive chair of Amazon’s Board.
He has a net worth of $US182 billion ($A239 billion), according to Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, and has been jockeying with Elon Musk for the number one position as the world’s richest person.
“I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and Andy Jassy will become CEO,” Mr Bezos said in a letter to employees.
“In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence.”
Amazon, which is now worth more than $US1.6 trillion ($A2.1 trillion) has transformed from an online bookstore to a mega retailer under Mr Bezos leadership.
The Silicon Valley giant employs 1.3 million people, serves hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and is “widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world”, Mr Bezos continued in his letter.
He credited invention for the global retailer’s success.
“We’ve done crazy things together, and then made them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more,” he wrote.
“If you get it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. And that yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive.”
Incoming CEO Mr Jassy has been with Amazon since 1997 and led Amazon’s Web Services cloud team since its inception.
Amazon reported it had surpassed more than $US100 billion ($A131 billion) in quarterly sales after holiday spending fueled the huge revenue record for the fourth quarter of 2020.
Mr Bezos owns a 11 per cent stake in Amazon, which makes up 90 per cent of his fortune.
He revealed two social issues close to his heart was the decision to raise the minimum wage to $15 for US employees in 2018 and the climate pledge made by Amazon.
Heavy criticism was directed towards Amazon and Mr Bezos two years ago about the pay disparity between workers and the leadership. When announcing the pay change, Mr Bezos encouraged competitors and large employers to join Amazon in increasing the minimum wage.
In 2019, Amazon co-founded The Climate Pledge — a commitment to be net zero carbon across the business by 2040, 10 years ahead of the Paris Agreement.
Mr Bezos, 57, also owns The Washington Post, aerospace company Blue Origin and other private investments — revealing he was keen to invest some time into these companies and other passions.
“As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition,” he wrote. “Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”
He was quick to assure employees that stepping down as CEO of Amazon wasn’t about retiring and insisted he has never had more energy.
“Amazon couldn’t be better positioned for the future. We are firing on all cylinders, just as the world needs us to,” he said.
“We have things in the pipeline that will continue to astonish. We serve individuals and enterprises, and we’ve pioneered two complete industries and a whole new class of devices. We are leaders in areas as varied as machine learning and logistics, and if an Amazonian’s idea requires yet another new institutional skill, we’re flexible enough and patient enough to learn it.”
Mr Bezos called on his staff to keep inventing, adding that they shouldn’t despair when at first the idea looks crazy.
“Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass,” he urged his employees.