Twenty-seven years to the day after he incorporated the company he co-founded, Jeff Bezos has retired as CEO of Amazon, handing over the reins to Andy Jassy, head of the company's cloud computing division.
Bezos told employees and shareholders his plans to step down back in February, naming Jassy his successor and announcing he would still have an active role with the company as executive chair, where he will keep focusing on his and the company's many side initiatives, including space exploration, combatting climate change and philanthropy.
"As executive 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," Bezos said at the time, noting that, "I've never had more energy, and this isn't about retiring."
The date was chosen because of the symbolism, as Bezos incorporated the company on July 5, 1994.
An electrical engineer and computer programmer by training, Bezos worked on Wall Street after his university days, including at one firm where he met his future wife, MacKenzie. The pair would marry in 1993.
The pair dreamed of starting an online business, although they were not sure what to sell at first.
Bezos quickly determined that an online bookstore would resonate with consumers, so he and MacKenzie set out on a road trip to Seattle — a city chosen for its abundance of tech talent and proximity to a large book distributor in Roseburg, Ore.
While MacKenzie drove, Bezos wrote up the business plan for what would become Amazon.com. Bezos convinced his parents and some friends to invest in the idea, and Amazon began operating out of the couple's Seattle garage the next year.
The company was unprofitable for several years, before expanding into e-commerce, server hosting and other initiatives. Today, Jassy takes over a company that is worth more than $1.7 trillion US, and took in almost $400 billion in revenue last year.
Jassy, who has been with Amazon since 1997, ran the cloud-computing business that powers video-streaming site Netflix and many other companies, making it one of Amazon's most profitable businesses.
Among Jassy's challenges are growing calls for tighter regulation on tech giants. A report by the U.S. House judiciary committee in October called for possibly breaking up Amazon and others, making it harder for them to acquire companies and imposing new rules to safeguard competition.
Problems like that will be the concern of Jassy from now on. But Bezos, meanwhile, will turn his focus to his other pursuits: fulfilling his childhood dream of travelling to space.
On July 20, the 57-year-old Bezos is slated to go into orbit on the Blue Origin rocket when it blasts off with its first batch of passengers. Along with Bezos will be his younger brother Mark and the winner of an auction who paid for another seat on the flight.