Amazon founder Jeff Bezos decided to step down as CEO of the company after a 27-year rule at the top as the Sultan of the online retail giant.
The Amazon chief's decision came even as the company beat estimates for holiday-quarter sales. Bezos named Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy as the chief executive officer.
Jeff Bezos will step down later this year. His journey caps a startup miracle which he built from a Seattle garage at the dawn of the internet age in 1994.
Richest man on the planet
Starting three decades ago in his garage, Jeff Bezos built one of the world's most successful business empires -- and became the richest person on the planet.
Now Bezos is turning to new challenges, giving up his role as chief executive of the technology giant to focus his energy on other business and philanthropic ventures.
Jeff Bezos to stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives
The news came as Amazon reported a blowout holiday quarter with profits more than doubling to $7.2 billion and revenue jumping 44 percent to $125.6 billion -- as pandemic lockdowns caused online sales to explode around the globe.
In a letter to Amazon employees, Bezos said he would "stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives" but would pivot towards philanthropic initiatives, including his Day One Fund and Bezos Earth Fund, and other business ventures in space exploration and journalism.
Amazon becomes the everything store
Bezos, 57, founded Amazon in his garage in 1994 and went on to grow it into a colossus that dominates online retail, with operations in streaming music and television, groceries, cloud computing, robotics, artificial intelligence and more.
His other businesses include The Washington Post newspaper and the private space firm Blue Origin.
Bezos's tenure at Amazon has been marked by a vast expansion globally and surges in profitability.
The company is based in Seattle, Washington, and is developing a second headquarters outside the US capital.
Amazon's market value was some $1.69 trillion as of Tuesday,
Andy Jassy and Jeff Bezos
His successor Jassy joined Amazon as a marketing manager in 1997 and in 2003 founded AWS, the cloud services division of the company which has been one of the most profitable but least-known units of the tech giant.
"He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence," Bezos said of Jassy.
"Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition," he said.
Bezos's stake gives him a personal fortune worth an estimated $196 billion, slightly more than Tesla chief Elon Musk who had briefly captured the title of world's wealthiest person.
Amazon has led other businesses by guaranteeing a minimum $15 per hour wage and has invested billions in Covid-19 mitigation -- but it continues to face criticism over workplace conditions at its warehouse operations.
Billionaire Jeff Bezos, who occupied the first spot in the list last year, slipped to the second position in 2021 despite adding $49 billion.