Amazon’s most senior execs are leaving in droves, citing stalling growth, higher pay elsewhere, and a tough culture — setting the stage for Andy Jassy’s first major challenge as CEO. Jeff Bezos’ resignation may be the biggest news of the year for Amazon, but a broader sea change has been unfolding at a layer below.
- Mass departure: At least 45 vice presidents and senior executives have departed Amazon in the past 15 months, according to public announcements, LinkedIn profiles, and people familiar with the matter. Two additional senior vice presidents Jeff Blackburn, who ran the video-streaming business and corporate development, and Steve Kessel, who oversaw the physical-stores unit also left the tech giant enterprise.
- High turnover : Amazon, which has approximately 350 vice presidents, experienced a turnover rate of more than 10 percent at the vice-presidential level and above over the last 15 months. “The risk-reward isn’t there for big leaders to stay at Amazon right now,” a former company executive told Insider. “It would not surprise me if 2021 has more VP attrition than 2020.”
- Better opportunity and culture: Seven of the executives who left the company since the beginning of 2020 spoke to the media anonymously. They cited several reasons for the executive departures, including Amazon’s culture and opportunities for better pay or a chance to join a C-suite. At least 15 of the executives who left Amazon went on to get a C-suite position in their new jobs, according to Insider.
- Personal and professional reasons: An Amazon spokesperson told Insider that the company has great retention and continuity of leadership. “The average tenure is 10 years for our vice presidents and more than 17 for our senior vice presidents,” the spokesperson said. “Like with any company, people leave from time to time for personal or professional reasons — many return to the company over the course of their careers.”
- Dramatic upheavals: It’s one of the most dramatic management upheavals in company history. One former VP called it a “huge” exodus, while another said it’s “highly unusual” for Amazon to see this much executive turnover in such a short period of time. As Amazon looks to a post-Bezos era, the departures present incoming CEO Andy Jassy with the dual challenge of having to work with less familiar faces while maintaining the company’s unique culture.