Bezos to focus on M&A, strategic issues, says Amazon

Bezos's move to executive chairman will be a "very active" role, said CFO Brian Olsavsky. Amazon will discuss leadership of AWS to replace Andy Jassy at a future date, he said.

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James Martin/CNET

During a conference call this evening to discuss Q4 results, Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will focus on strategic issues such as mergers and acquisitions in his new role at the company when he transitions to being executive chairman this fall, handing the reins to cloud computing leader Andy Jassy.

Amazon announced this evening, in conjunction with its Q4 report, that Bezos will cede the CEO role to Jassy in Q3 of this year.

"Jeff will be the Executive Chairman of the Board. He will be involved in many large, one-way-door issues, as we say, one-way doors, meaning, you know, the more important decisions, things like acquisitions, things like strategies, and going into grocery, and other things," said Olsavsky during the Q&A section of the call with Wall Street analysts. 

"So, Jeff's always been involved with that, and that's where we'll keep his time focused on, or, he'll keep his time focused on in his new role."

Olsavsky termed Bezos's job as a "super important role," noting that "the Board is super active and important in Amazon's success story."

Jassy, who has been with the company since 1997, "has a chance to put his imprint on Amazon," added Olsavsky. "He is certainly going to carry through the culture and the vision and the invention factory that Amazon is and we'll take that to the next level."

As for who might take over from Jassy, who has run AWS for its entire life, Olsavsky said that "We'll be working on backfilling the AWS role, and we'll talk more about that in the future."

AWS made $35 billion in revenue last year, and over $9 billion in operating profit, the major source of Amazon's profit. Olsavsky said AWS is on course to generate $51 billion in annual revenue, with a current backlog of business of $50 billion.

The hand-off from Bezos to Jassy follows another important transition that just took place, with Jeff Wilke, a twenty-year Amazon vet who had been running the consumer business, having departed in the fall, and Dave Clark, a fellow Amazon vet, replacing him.

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