Jeff Blackburn, a top Amazon.com Inc. AMZN 0.43% executive and close aide to Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, is leaving the company after taking a yea
Mr. Blackburn announced his departure in a memo to the company Tuesday reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. He said he isn’t retiring and would soon share what he will be doing next.
“I hope that, on the margin, I pushed [the senior executive] team and Amazon to be even more bold, see around corners, think big,” Mr. Blackburn wrote. “What an amazing 22 years it has been together—I will cherish it, forever.”
Mr. Blackburn’s departure comes after a wave of leadership changes at the online commerce giant. Mr. Bezos said earlier this month he would step down as CEO to become executive chairman after heading the company for more than 26 years. Jeff Wilke, a longtime executive and CEO of Amazon’s consumer-facing businesses, is retiring from the company on Monday.
Mr. Blackburn and Mr. Wilke were once seen as potential successors to Mr. Bezos. Andy Jassy, who has long headed Amazon’s booming cloud-computing business, is succeeding Mr. Bezos. He is set to start as CEO in the third quarter.
Other recent departures have included Steve Kessel, who led Amazon’s physical store efforts, and Maria Renz, another longtime executive who was vice president of delivery experience and once served as Mr. Bezos’ technical adviser.
The Wall Street Journal reported in July 2019 that Mr. Blackburn intended to take a sabbatical for all of 2020, with plans to return to the company this year. He decided to take the leave after having put in many years at the company, Amazon said at the time.
Before his leave, he headed Amazon’s entertainment, business-development and advertising businesses, which include Amazon studios, Prime Video and music, as well as mergers and acquisitions and advertising.
As a member of the so-called “S-team” of top company executives, Mr. Blackburn served as one of Mr. Bezos’ closest advisers. He joined in 1998, four years after Amazon was founded, to work on product development and operations. At Amazon, he is credited with spurring innovation and was a key player in the launch and rise of Amazon’s fast-growing advertising business. Amazon’s sales in the segment that includes advertising revenue rose 66% in its fourth quarter from the previous year to roughly $8 billion.
Amazon’s top executive team still remains and includes many veterans. Dave Clark, who joined the company around the same time as Mr. Wilke, succeeded Mr. Wilke as consumer chief.
“Thank you for more than two decades of leadership,” Mr. Bezos wrote Tuesday in response to Mr. Blackburn’s memo. “Though it’s not quite ready to be shared, jblack has kept me in the loop on his next chapter, and I can assure you it’s a very exciting one! I predict that Jeff will be every bit as amazing in his new role as he’s been in all his roles at Amazon.”
GeekWire earlier reported Mr. Blackburn’s departure.
Write to Sebastian Herrera at [email protected]
Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8
Appeared in the February 24, 2021, print edition as ‘Amazon Executive Jeff Blackburn To Leave Company.’