Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos has announced he will demote himself within the company, in order to pursue other ventures.
The online shopping market place was created in 1994 and has made him billions and propelled him to the top of the world’s rich list.
However, following a divorce in 2019 and the unprecedented growth of the company during the pandemic, Bezos has decided he will resign to the post of executive chairman while still remaining largely active within the company.
So, what are his other interests, who will replace him and how did he build the most successful online marketplace in the world? This is what we know.
Who is Jeff Bezos?
Bezos, 57, is an American entrepreneur and businessman who became the richest person in the world briefly in 2017, before formally being named as the richest in 2018.
He graduated from Princeton University in 1986 with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science. Bezos worked on Wall Street from leaving university until he established Amazon in 1994.
The father of four met his ex-wife Mackenzie Tuttle when they both worked in D. E. Shaw, a computer programming and marketing company, in 1992.
The couple moved to Seattle, where they would found Amazon.
They went on to have three sons and adopted a daughter from China. The pair announced their divorce in early 2019, after a “long period of separation.”
Tuttle took 25 percent of Amazon’s shares and Bezos kept the other 75 percent.
Bezos is considered a big fan of Star Trek, featuring as a starfleet official in the movie Star Trek Beyond.
He also named his office, Zefram LLC, after the franchise's character Zefram Chochrane. In 2000, he set up Blue Origin, a human spaceflight start up company.
What is his net worth?
Bezos is worth an estimated $196.2million, according to Forbes.
He was the wealthiest man in the world until January 2021, when Tesla’s Elon Musk surpassed him.
However, the two continue to battle for top spot as Bezos’ company continues to amass a fortune from online shoppers during the pandemic and Musk sees huge investment as climate change encourages people around the world to buy electric vehicles.
Bezos became a millionaire in 1997, just three years after he set up the Amazon online store.
By 1999, he had made his first billion and throughout the naughties his wealth fluctuated dramatically. Bezos’ wealth surpassed that of other billionaires such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates for short spells, before he finally secured top spot on the world’s wealthiest people list in 2018.
Where did Amazon begin?
Bezos founded Amazon as an online bookstore in July 1994, after writing the business plan during a cross country drive from New York to Seattle.
He invested $300,000 from a loan his parents gave him, then accepted further investments with a few private partners.
At the time, he warned investors there was a 70 percent chance the company would go bust.
In 1997, he took the online bookstore public with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) and amassed his first $10 million from the stock market.
In the first three years after launching Amazon, he began to sell music and videos on the store also. He has since said he always planned to expand Amazon from a bookstore to an online goods marketplace.
The company now employs 1.3 million people globally and is worth around $386bn (£283bn). Amazon now deals in online shopping, music and film streaming and advertising.
Why has Bezos stepped down?
The billionaire has stressed that he is not leaving the company, but will be taking a less hands-on approach.
This comes following an increase in public attention over the past few years in his public and private life.
Bezos’ divorce from McKenzie Tuttle played out publicly and he has been described by the International Trade Union Confederation as the ‘World’s Worst Boss’.
This is largely due to his data and profit driven approach to business, which has been viewed by activists as exploiting human labour and workers rights - an accusation he opposes strongly.
He has also received criticism from the charity sector as he has donated a relatively small amount to philanthropic issues, in comparison to others on the billionaire list.
Bezos also has investments in space flight company, Blue Origin, and US newspaper brand, The Washington Post, which he purchased in 2013 for $250m cash.
He has transformed the Washington Post into a more digitally accessible news and technology platform, and hopes to carry human passengers into space through the development of Blue Origin,
The billionaire told his Amazon staff in a letter to announce his step back: “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.
"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 organisations can have."
Who will replace Bezos as CEO of Amazon?
Amazon’s Andy Jassy will now replace Bezos as the CEO, previously being employed as the head of cloud computing.
He has been with the company since 1997 and executives have suggested there is no surprise that the company will now be fronted by an expert in cloud computing.
Amazon has seen a rise in competition from Microsoft and Apple Inc. (Google’s parent company), in web development and Jassy was a lead member of the team who developed Amazon Web Services.
Bezos said of his replacement: "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.”