- Jeff Bezos will spend his time as Amazon executive chairman focusing on “one-way door” decisions.
- Bezos defines these as big decisions that can’t be taken back — like walking through a one-way door.
- Bezos will hand over day-to-day management of Amazon to AWS CEO Andy Jassy.
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Jeff Bezos may be stepping down as Amazon CEO, but he’s not going anywhere — in fact, he’ll still be involved in major, “one-way door” decisions at the company.
Bezos, 57, announced on Tuesday that in the third quarter of 2021, he’ll move into a new role as executive chairman of Amazon’s board. Andy Jassy, the current CEO of AWS, will take his place.
“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else,” Bezos wrote, adding that he’ll be focusing his time on his philanthropy, as well as the two companies he owns: the Washington Post and space company Blue Origin.
Read more: Andy Jassy will be the next CEO of Amazon. Insiders dish on what it’s like to work for Jeff Bezos’ successor who built AWS into a $40 billion business.
But Bezos said that while he’s handing over day-to-day management of the company to Jassy, he’ll still be “engaged in important Amazon initiatives,” a sentiment Amazon executives echoed during a conference call following the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report on Tuesday.
“Jeff is not leaving, he is getting a new job,” Brian Olsavsky, Amazon’s chief financial officer, said during the call.
“He will be involved in many large ‘one-way-door’ issues, as we say — ‘one way doors’ meaning the more important decisions, things like acquisitions, things like strategies, going into grocery and other things,” Olsavsky said. “So, Jeff’s always been involved with that and that’s where he’ll keep his time focused in his new role.”
Olsavsky added that Amazon is “very happy to see both Jeff and Andy get new perspectives” and that Jassy will have the opportunity to put his imprint on Amazon.
Bezos has spoken in the past about “one-way-door” decisions. In his annual letter to shareholders in both 1997 and 2016, Bezos described his method of distinguishing between two kinds of decisions.
One type, he wrote, is like walking through a standard door: If you’re not happy with your choice, you can always walk back through it. The other type is a one-way door — it’s not reversible, so you have to be very careful about making that kind of decision, he wrote.
But Bezos has also warned others against making too many “one-way-door” decisions.
“The end result of this is slowness, unthoughtful risk aversion, failure to experiment sufficiently, and consequently diminished invention,” Bezos wrote in 1997. “We’ll have to figure out how to fight that tendency.”