JeffBezos has a formulation about one-way doors and two-way doors—decisions that are irreversible and permanent and those that can always be unwound. Stepping through what’s almost certainly a one-way door on Feb. 2, Bezos said he will resign as chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc. and become executive chairman later this year. He’ll hand day to-day control to Andy Jassy, the longtime head of Amazon Web Services, a swiftly growing division that’s almost single-handedly changed the way companies buy the technology that powers their businesses.
With that comes at least a partial end to one of the most epic runs in business history. Yet Bezos’ move feels, in many ways, natural and even inevitable. Over the past 25 years the Amazon founder, now 57, led the company through perhaps the most fertile period of any American business ever. Amazon began as just an idea at the Wall Street hedge fund D. E. Shaw & Co., where Bezos was a vice president; it was an online bookseller and era-defining dot-com stock during the late 1990s. Bezos then rescued the company from the internet bust by inventing and guiding creations such as Kindle, Amazon Prime, and AWS. Along the way, he minted an idiosyncratic corporate culture, where employees almost religiously adhere to 14 leadership principles (“invent and simplify,” “customer obsession,” etc.) and constantly write belabored six-page documents that, at the start of meetings, are read by all attendees in almost sacred silence.
While that culture has drawn criticism for being difficult, even punishing, particularly for employees seeking work-life balance, it’s also been unmistakably effective: Over the past decade, Bezos has piloted Amazon to a $1.7 trillion market capitalization, where it occupies the same rarefied 13-figure air as Microsoft Corp. and Apple Inc.
But Bezos’ decision to step down also reflects an uncomfortable reality for one of the wealthiest people in the world: The walls of his highly compartmentalized empire have been crumbling for some time. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to be JeffBezos (at least by his own standards). He presides over a collection of properties that spans not only Amazon but also the Washington Post, several philanthropies, and a space company, Blue Origin LLC, that lags far behind its chief rival, Elon Musk’s SpaceX.
Just consider the ways the various Bezos assets have collided over the past few years. His ownership of the Post consistently angered the last U.S. president and probably cost Amazon the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI cloud computing contract, which the Trump-controlled Defense Department,awarded to Microsoft. When he traveled to India in early 2020, Prime Minister Narendra Modi declined to meet with him, and a senior official criticized the Post’s coverage of the country.
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
The Most Broken Business in America
Biden’s Build Back Better plan may make day care more affordable for parents—if the providers don’t go belly up first
Don’t let their confidence fool you: Xi, Putin, and other authoritarians are increasingly vulnerable at home
The Gucci Girlfriend
A love affair with Sheree McLaughlin led fashion scion Maurizio Gucci to leave his wife—a decision that would get him killed. As audiences ready for Ridley Scott’s retelling in House of Gucci, McLaughlin shares her story for the first time.
Crypto's Regulation Fix: We'll Handle It
Execs say traditional agencies don’t have the tools or expertise to oversee the sector alone
Ghost at the Controls
Boeing insisted pilots didn’t need expensive training for the new 737 Max and wouldn’t have trouble diagnosing software errors midflight. Then Maxes started pointing themselves toward the Earth. Adapted from the new book Flying Blind: The 737 Max Tragedy and the Fall of Boeing, by Peter Robison
Xi's Great Moderation
The Chinese leader wants to downsize the real estate sector, even if it means sacrificing economic growth
There's a Blockchain App for That
○ The technology is being used for digital health passports, banking, and gaming
Teaching Digital Currencies Not to Guzzle
Alternatives to “mining” augur power-sipping coins
Rivian's Success Is a Tribute to Tesla
Why is a company with no sales worth $130 billion? Belief in EVs
Retailers Gain The Upper Hand
○ Supply chain disruptions will mean fewer deep discounts for shoppers this Christmas
THE BEST PRODUCTS OF 2021
You need only one list this holiday season when you’re buying tech gifts. Here’s PCMag’s annual collection of the 101 most exceptional products tested and rated by our experts in the past year.
"You're literally flipping the script"
Riz Ahmed- ACTOR, PRODUCER, MUSICIAN, AND ACTIVIST | It takes some serious organizational skills to make a difference in Hollywood from the inside. Riz Ahmed shows how it’s done.
AI in Streaming Services
The shows you ‘choose’ to watch aren’t entirely your decision.
ITALIAN COMPETITION WATCHDOG FINES APPLE, AMAZON $225M
Italy’s antitrust watchdog has fined Apple and Amazon a total of more than 200 million euros ($225 million) for cooperating to restrict competition in the sale of Apple and Beats branded products in violation of European Union rules.
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K Max: Excellent Media Streamer
Wi-Fi 6 is capable of higher speeds and better performance than the Wi-Fi 5 we’re used to, especially in crowded network environments, and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K Max is the first media streamer under $100 we’ve seen to support the standard (the $180 Apple TV 4K also uses it).
What we're raving about this month
Amazon Unpacked A-Z
It doesn’t matter that Jeff Bezos has stepped down: No industry is safe from the company’s relentless ambition. A complete guide to Amazon’s staggeringly large and ever-mutating domain, most of which you can’t even see.
What really happens to all the pants that don’t fit
AMAZON TO ALLOW EMPLOYEES TO WORK REMOTELY INDEFINITELY
Amazon said it will allow many tech and corporate workers to continue working remotely indefinitely, as long as they can commute to the office when necessary.
SPATIAL AUDIO RELATIONS
Ears-on with Apple Music’s new Atmos offerings