Andy Jassy this morning officially became the chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., three months after being named to succeed company founder Jeff Bezos in the role.
Bezos, who led Amazon as its CEO since founding the company in 1994, as of today holds the title of executive chairman. He’s expected to remain active with the company despite his increasing attention on other pursuits such as his Blue Origin LLC space company.
Before taking over the top post at Amazon, Jassy (pictured) was CEO of the company’s massively profitable Amazon Web Services Inc. cloud computing subsidiary. AWS had an annual revenue run rate of about $54 billion as of April and ranks as the largest player in the public cloud market by a wide margin. It also provides the technology infrastructure that powers parent Amazon’s e-commerce marketplace and many of its other products.
Jassy appeared numerous times on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE studio over the years as he worked to turn AWS into the cloud computing giant that it is today. In an early 2015 interview with SiliconANGLE co-founder and CEO John Furrier, one of the first of many interviews, Jassy recalled how the idea for AWS emerged from challenges that Amazon experienced internally in the early 2000s with building new software.
The cause of the challenges, Jassy and Jeff Bezos realized, was the company’s technology infrastructure. Amazon’s development team leads had complained that the infrastructure was not robust enough for their software projects’ requirements.
Soon, Jassy would begin receiving similar complaints from executives at other companies. Recognizing that there was a broad market need for more robust information technology infrastructure, the future Amazon CEO penned a vision document titled AWS OP1 that presented a plan for addressing the issue.
That document would lay the foundation for AWS, which a few years later, in 2004, launched its first cloud service into general availability. That service was Amazon Simple Queue Service. Jassy had built it with a team of just a few dozen engineers.
AWS grew rapidly after the launch of Simple Queue Service. With Jassy at the helm, the Amazon unit grew its product portfolio with dozens of additional cloud services, expanded into emerging markets such as quantum computing and added millions of customers. Explaining the key to AWS’ product strategy during another interview with Furrier, in 2016, Jassy said that “90% of our roadmap and what we build is driven by what customers tell us matters.” As for the other 10%, “we try to listen to our customers, trying to articulate and read between the lines and invent on their behalf,” Jassy said.
AWS can be expected to remain a key focus for the executive now that he also oversees the other parts of Amazon’s business. AWS generates more than half of parent Amazon’s profits and provides the cloud infrastructure that power its key businesses, including its flagship e-commerce marketplace.
Over recent years, amid the mounting antitrust scrutiny of Amazon, some Amazon watchers have speculated that regulators may force the company to spin off AWS. The subject came up again during a recent discussion between Furrier and Dave Vellante, chief analyst at SiliconANGLE’s sister market research firm.
“Does this portend that they’ll split the company in two?” Vellante asked. “I think it’s less likely. If you think about Amazon getting into groceries or healthcare or financial services and the IoT opportunity, they can bring in the cloud, data and AI and go attack these new industries. I would think Jassy of all people would want to keep this thing together.”
“He’s not afraid to take chances on the product side, he’ll go in and take a chance on a new market,” Furrier commented. “Jassy builds, he likes to build stuff. If you look at the things he’s done with AWS, it’s about enabling people to be successful with all the tools they need.”
Jassy told Furrier in an extensive four-part interview series late last year, not long before his appointment as Amazon CEO, that he believes the biggest growth opportunities for AWS are still ahead.
“The lion’s share of growth is ahead of us, as we’re kind of in this moment where mainstream enterprise and governments are moving to the cloud,” Jassy explained. “We have a very broad offering. We have lots of things coming, both in the next few weeks, as well as in the next few years.”
Amazon said in a regulatory filing on Friday that it was planning to grant Jassy 61,000 shares of stock on Monday in conjunction with the executive beginning his first day as the company’s CEO. The shares, which will vest over 10 years, are reportedly worth over $200 million. Jassy currently owns 0.02% of Amazon, while founder Jeff Bezos has a roughly 10% stake.
Jassy sat down with Furrier at the virtual AWS re:Invent conference in December:
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