Jeff Blackburn, a top Amazon.com Inc.
Executive and close associate of CEO Jeff Bezos, is leaving the company after taking a year off.
Mr Blackburn announced his departure in a note to the company Tuesday reviewed by the Wall Street Journal. He said he is not retiring and would soon share what he does next.
“I hope that, at the margin, I pushed [the senior executive] the team and Amazon to be even bolder, see the corners, think big, ”wrote Mr. Blackburn. “What an incredible 22 years this has been together – I will cherish it, forever.”
Mr Blackburn’s departure comes after a wave of leadership changes at the e-commerce giant. Mr Bezos said earlier this month that he would step down as CEO to become executive chairman after leading the company for more than 26 years. Jeff Wilke, a longtime executive and CEO of Amazon’s consumer-oriented businesses, is retiring from the company on Monday.
Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Wilke were once viewed as potential successors to Mr. Bezos. Andy Jassy, who has long led Amazon’s booming cloud computing business, succeeds Mr. Bezos. He is expected to start as CEO in the third quarter.
Other recent departures include Steve Kessel, who led Amazon’s physical store efforts, and Maria Renz, another longtime executive who was VP of Delivery Experience and previously served as a technical advisor to Mr. Bezos.
The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2019 that Mr. Blackburn intended to take a sabbatical for the whole of 2020, with the intention of returning to the company this year. He decided to take time off after spending many years in the business, Amazon said at the time.
Prior to his departure, he led Amazon’s entertainment, business development and advertising activities, which include Amazon studios, Prime Video and music, as well as mergers and acquisitions and advertising.
As a member of the so-called “S team” of the company’s top executives, Mr. Blackburn has been one of Mr. Bezos’ closest advisers. He joined in 1998, four years after the founding of Amazon, to work on product development and operations. At Amazon, he is recognized for driving innovation and was a key player in launching and expanding Amazon’s rapidly growing advertising business. Amazon’s sales in the segment that includes advertising revenue grew 66% in the fourth quarter from a year ago to around $ 8 billion.
Amazon’s best management team is still around and includes many veterans. Dave Clark, who joined the company around the same time as Mr. Wilke, succeeded Mr. Wilke as chief consumer officer.
“Thank you for over two decades of leadership,” Bezos wrote Tuesday in response to Mr. Blackburn’s memo. “While it’s not quite ready to share, jblack has kept me posted on their next chapter, and I can assure you it’s very exciting! I predict Jeff will be just as amazing in his new role as he has been in all of his roles at Amazon.
GeekWire earlier reported Mr. Blackburn’s departure.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at Sebastian.Herrera@wsj.com
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