Inside Politics

Jeff Bezos steps down as Amazon boss, 27 years after he founded it

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021 00:00 |
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.

CHANGE: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has officially stepped down as the company’s chief executive- exactly 27 years after he founded it.

In that time he has developed a series of unusual leadership principles - which some argue are the backbone of his success. Others believe they speak to everything that is wrong with Big Tech.

Talk to anyone who’s ever worked at Amazon, and you don’t have to wait long before you hear the phrase “customer obsession.” 

For Bezos, profit was a long-term aspiration. For a company to be successful it had to have happy customers - at almost any cost.

Nadia Shouraboura started working for Amazon in 2004. She went on to be invited into the elite “S-team” of Amazon managers - the senior managerial board.

But when she first started, she thought she was going to be immediately fired.

“I made the biggest mistake of my life during our Christmas peak,” she says.

Shouraboura had ordered key products onto warehouse shelves that were too high. It would take time and money to get the right products off the shelves.

“I came up with a clever way for us to lose as little money as possible, and sort of fix the problem.

But when I talked to Jeff about it he looked at me and said, ‘you’re thinking about this all wrong’.

Bezos has many critics. Last month, a bombshell article from ProPublica claimed to have seen Bezos’ tax returns - and alleged Mr Bezos paid no tax in 2007 and 2011.

It was a stunning claim about the world’s richest man. Other negative stories about Amazon, its ruthlessness, its claims of monopolistic behaviour, haven’t helped Bezos’ reputation.

Closely with him

However, many people who work closely with him don’t recognise the characterisation that he is uncaring or selfish.

For them he is a business visionary - a man with singular focus who has created a legendary work philosophy and a company worth almost $1.8 trillion (£1.3tn)

“You’re thinking how to optimise money here. Fix the problem for customers, and then come back to me in a few weeks and tell me the cost.” People who know him say that Bezos likes to approach problems “backwards”.

“It’s a very specific process at Amazon,” says his technical adviser Colin Bryar.

In the planning stage teams will do a reverse timeline - start with what a launch would look like and then work backwards.

Jeff Bezos will leave his post, turning the helm over to Andy Jassy. Bezos will transition to executive chairman of Amazon’s board.    - BBC

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