A page turns. Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, is entering a new phase in his career after building, from an online bookstore, one of the most powerful companies on the planet, Amazon. At 57, the businessman will leave his position as general manager to his lieutenant Andy Jassy this Monday to devote himself to other projects, starting with a trip to space on July 20.
He will retain a key role in the company he founded just twenty-seven years ago by remaining executive chairman of its board of directors. If he has been praised for the many innovations which have sometimes shaken up entire economic sectors, he has also been vilified for certain business practices that tend to crush competition or for the treatment of his employees.
A turnover of 386 billion dollars
Whether it’s selling books, cloud computing, or home delivery, “Bezos is a leader who drives change,” says Darrell West of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. “It gave the impetus to a lot of services that people now take for granted, like shopping online, ordering something and having it delivered the next day,” he notes.
Launched in the garage of Jeff Bezos, who did the packages himself, Amazon is now worth more than $ 1.7 trillion on the stock market and in 2020 generated a turnover of $ 386 billion. It’s a sprawling group, from e-commerce and cloud computing to groceries, artificial intelligence and film production.
A pioneer of online commerce
Jeff Bezos “has the instinct to find what will work” in the next market, said Roger Kay, analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates. The company has supplanted its rivals by choosing the first years to “reinvest all profits in growth,” recalls Roger Kay. A strategy which has sometimes left investors perplexed but which now “appears completely logical”, he underlines.
For Bob O’Donnell of Technalysis Research, Jeff Bezos “was not the first or the only one” in the online business niche “but he understood (it) and worked to improve it”. The boss of Amazon has in particular “understood the need to build infrastructure”, whether it is its vast network of warehouses or its fleet of trucks, notes Bob O’Donnell. “A lot of other companies didn’t want to spend the money on this thankless behind-the-scenes job.”
Lots of reviews in many countries
The fortune of his company has also been his: even after having sold part of his shares in Amazon to his ex-wife after his divorce, Jeff Bezos is currently worth around $ 200 billion according to the magazine. Forbes. He is giving up the day-to-day management of his company to spend more time on other projects like his other company Blue Origin – which will make its first space tourism flight on July 20 with Jeff Bezos on board. The businessman also owns the newspaper Washington Post and said he wanted to spend time and money on tackling climate change.
It is leaving as Amazon, which employs more than 800,000 people in the United States after seeing its business soar during the pandemic, faces much criticism from advocates for employees or regulators. Amazon highlights the fact that the company offers a minimum hourly wage of $ 15 and various benefits, but critics regularly denounce the obsession with efficiency at the risk of treating employees like machines.
Measures to dismantle Amazon soon?
In his last annual letter to shareholders in April, and after an unsuccessful attempt to organize at a warehouse of his group in Alabama, Jeff Bezos acknowledged that the group had to do better for its employees and promised that Amazon would become ” the best employer on Earth ”. Worried about the growing stranglehold of a few tech giants over entire sections of the economy, regulators are considering measures to partially dismantle Amazon.
Amazon could thus become “victim of its own success”, advance Roger Kay. Even if the group were to split up into several entities, each of them would “thrive in its own market,” he predicts. “I can easily imagine a scenario where the sum of the parts turns out to be greater than the unified whole. Shareholders should not suffer ”.