Today, yet another after a killer earnings report, Amazon announced that its founder Jeff Bezos was retiring from the CEO position and kicking himself upstairs to become executive chairman of the company.
Amazon Web Services (AWS) CEO Andy Jassy, long in waiting for the CEO role of the overall company, will replace Bezos. AWS is itself a $10 billion business, and Jassy has been with the company since 1997, just three years after its founding in 1994, so investors and customers alike can probably expect more of the same from Amazon.
However, it's worth taking a moment to consider the impact of Bezos's 26 year old company on the world economy. Not only is Amazon's market cap over $1.7 trillion, making it one of the most valuable companies in the world, it has created nearly 600,000 jobs around the world in its offices, distribution centers, acquisitions, and subsidiaries. It employs every kind of worker — from software engineer to security guard, from airplane pilot to Zappos customer satisfaction agent. (Amazon bought Zappos for $1.2 billion in 2009.)
Both the job count and stock price of course started basically at zero; well, Amazon's IPO price was a mere $18 a share. Our chart extends back to when Thinknum began collecting data on the company. (Note: Drops in the employee count line are likely due to blips in the data, not sudden purges of thousands of workers.)
Over the years Amazon has faced its fair share of criticism, mostly around how it treats its warehouse workers. Indeed, among the categories of people it employs are spies, in an effort to bust unions. It also hires lobbyists — as Bezos has done his best to defend Amazon's market dominance against antitrust hearings by Congress and the investigations by federal government. Amazon also apparently hires people to copy the designs of successful products, like Allbirds sneakers. And it's taken the baton from Wal-mart, Target, and other big box stores in helping hollow out downtowns from small businesses all around the country.
All this is to say Amazon is not without fault or flaw. But the economic activity and wealth creation of the company is undeniable. Bezos set out, after leaving as a vice president at hedge fund D.E. Shaw, to build an everything store. All these years later, it's fair to say that you can buy anything at Amazon, from server space the second to one-of-a-kind watches and goods in the hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars range, and everything in between. Bezos' departure from the CEO suite marks the end of an era in our world's digital, ecommerce transformation. Who knows what comes next?
About the Data:
Thinknum tracks companies using the information they post online, jobs, social and web traffic, product sales, and app ratings, and creates data sets that measure factors like hiring, revenue, and foot traffic. Data sets may not be fully comprehensive (they only account for what is available on the web), but they can be used to gauge performance factors like staffing and sales.