As he prepares to blast off into a new career stage, Jeff Bezos leaves an enduring legacy after transforming Amazon from a modest online bookseller into one of the world’s most powerful corporations.
Bezos, 57, is set to hand over the job of Amazon chief executive on Monday to Andy Jassy and turn his attention to his private space exploration firm, philanthropy and other endeavours. He will retain a key role, however, as executive chair at the technology and e-commerce colossus he founded 27 years ago.
The transition comes after a spectacular streak for Amazon, which has drawn attention for its innovations.
But the firm has also been vilified over business practices that have crushed competitors and raised concerns over the treatment of a workforce of more than one million.
“Bezos has been a transformational leader in bookselling, the retail market, cloud computing and home delivery,” said Darrell West, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation.
“He was a pioneer who introduced many of the conveniences that people take for granted, such as going to an online store, ordering something, and having it delivered to your home the next day. The whole e-commerce sector owes many of its innovations to this individual.”
In public appearances, Bezos often recounts the early days at Amazon, started in his garage, when he packed up orders himself and drove boxes to the post office.
Today, Amazon has a market value of more than $1.7 trillion. It posted 2020 annual revenues of $386 billion from operations in the e-commerce, cloud computing, groceries, artificial intelligence, streaming media and more.