He has since stepped down from being the CEO of Amazon
There’s no doubt that Jeff Bezos has become more than a household name. He created one of the largest e-commerce retailers globally and dominated a cloud computing industry that has historically been led by the older tech giants of the valley.
In a letter addressed to his employees on the Amazon blog, he states that he’s stepping down as CEO and transitioning to an Executive Chair role on the board of Amazon.
This gives him more flexibility to work on more passion projects while still helping with strategy around Amazon’s most important initiatives.
“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”. — He outlines in his post
This similarly echoes what Bill Gates did in 2000 when he stepped down as CEO and eventually the board, although he still retained the position as a technology advisor at Nadella’s request.
So what will happen with Bezos and his exciting move in 2021?
Firstly, he will still be involved in major strategic initiatives
Unlike other board positions, an executive chairman of the board allows Bezos to have a significant say in everything going on with Amazon. This means he will influence key operational decisions and everything around the management level in Amazon.
To put it simply, he will still have an impact on “bigger picture” decisions.
Amazon’s CFO, Brian Olsavsky, echoed this to reporters when he called it more of a “restructuring of who’s doing what”. For Bezos, this move will help him not only have a firm grip on Amazon but also allows him more time to work on his side projects.
His passion projects are next in line for attention
Like many tech billionaires, most of them have side projects that have kept them busy, even during their full-time role as the CEO.
This has been the same for Jeff Bezos, who has been vocal that he will be focusing on his passion projects after stepping down from Amazon.
So what passion projects does he have?
Bezos bought Washington Post in 2013 after Donald Graham, son of Washington’s Post’s publisher Katherine Graham, recommended him to purchase it.
Bezos was hesitant, after all, he had no interest in the newspaper business nor wanted to take on a business that was bleeding money. But after some “soul searching,” he realized he wanted to take on the challenge.
“I know that when I’m 90, it’s going to be one of the things I’m most proud of, that I took on the Washington Post and helped them through a very rough transition,” he said in an interview in 2018.
He has since managed to turn the Post into a profitable business in only a few years, focusing on digitizing the platform and transforming it into a subscriber model.
Blue Origin is one of Bezos’s biggest passion projects.
After all, few people have managed to tackle space projects due to the sheer amount of capital needed to pursue it.
He even admitted that he founded Amazon in the hopes of making billions to fund his own space efforts. His passions have been noted ever since he attended high school, having voiced his goal of going into space and colonizing it.
With him stepping down from Amazon, he can devote more time to a passion that has been with him ever since he was a kid. The first goal of Blue Origin is to make space travel cheaper and more accessible with reusable launch vehicles. Of course, this is already very similar to what SpaceX does, so only time will tell to see what Bezos will come up with in the future.
Bezos Earth Fund
It was only last year in February 2020 that Bezos pledged $10 billion to support scientists, activists, and charities to help tackle climate change. As a kid, he wanted to start a space company to colonize space so we could “preserve the Earth”.
He is now starting from square one in protecting our planet, beginning with climate change. He announced half a year later in November some of the fund recipients, which includes the World Wildlife Fund, The Natural Conservancy, and more.
More than likely, with this announcement being so recent, he will be dedicating a large portion of time to this cause, having already spent his recent months working with the fund’s grantees.
Day 1 Fund
Bezos was unique in the fact he did not participate in Bill Gate’s ‘Giving Pledge’ initiative, which aimed to encourage extremely wealthy people to contribute a majority of their wealth to philanthropic causes.
Instead, he launched the Day 1 Fund, which aimed to provide $2 billion of funding for education programs for the homeless. He will most likely continue focusing on this initiative since announcing the recipients of donations totaling $105.9 million in 2020.
Of course, all of these passion projects are what Bezos has publically announced or worked on. It will be more than likely that he launches new initiatives with his newfound time, especially those he’s been working on more secretly.
It will be exciting to see what Bezos works on or launches, having been an extraordinary visionary to the technology space for the last decades.