Amazon founder Jeff Bezos announced yesterday at the company's annual meeting that he will step down as the company's CEO on July 5, which the Seattle Times writes is "27 years to the day after founding Amazon" in his garage. The company he hands off to his successor, though, is a far more complex one - beset by far more challenges - than the online bookseller he originally created.
The Times writes that "Bezos had announced this spring that Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy would replace him as CEO, but the precise date of the transition was unknown until Wednesday’s meeting. Bezos will remain chair of Amazon’s board of directors, a position in which he is expected to continue to exert considerable influence on the company."
“I guarantee that Andy will never let the universe make us typical,” Bezos said. "He has the energy needed to keep alive in us what has made us special.”
The Times notes, however, that Jassy's portfolio of issues will not be easy.
"The many challenges besetting Amazon were a focus of Wednesday’s meeting, which featured testimony from two leaders of a rare union campaign at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama," the story says.
"Though the campaign ended in defeat, union organizers Jennifer Bates and Darryl Richardson seized the meeting as an opportunity to take their concerns about worker safety and Amazon’s hiring practices directly to shareholders, speaking in favor of proposals urging Amazon to elect a warehouse worker to its board of directors and assess the company’s impact on racial equity.
"Neither of those proposals, or nine others put forward by outsiders, received a majority of votes cast, despite unprecedented support from institutional shareholder-advisory firms amid a rising tide of shareholder activism. Amazon had recommended votes against all 11 shareholder proposals.
"Activist investors say they’re less concerned about 'passing' a resolution than they are with generating publicity, putting Amazon on the record about the issues at hand and showing the company that a sizable percentage of its shareholders - even if not a majority - support changes to Amazon’s business practices."
Amazon continues to take on regulatory fire about how it treats its warehouse workers, even as it says it is taking steps to improve workplace conditions and make its many warehouses safer.
And, Amazon inevitably will face more antitrust scrutiny, which probably will only be heightened by the announcement yesterday that it will acquire MGM - the legacy move studio with rights to the James Bond and Rocky franchises, among others - as a way of building greater value into its Prime membership.