The big news for Amazon on Tuesday was the announcement that CEO and Founder Jeff Bezos will transition in the third quarter to executive chair. Andy Jassy, who currently leads Amazon Web Services, will become CEO at that time.
The announcement came as the e-commerce operator and cloud computing and logistics giant reported $125.6 billion in fourth quarter revenue, up 44% year over year — the largest quarterly revenue Amazon has ever reported.
The Q4 revenue also beat Wall Street expectations of $119.7 billion.
Bezos said his transition plan comes at an optimum time for Amazon, and not only because of these latest financial results.
“Amazon is what it is because of invention. We do crazy things together and then make them normal. We pioneered customer reviews, 1-Click, personalized recommendations, Prime’s insanely-fast shipping, Just Walk Out shopping, the Climate Pledge, Kindle, Alexa, marketplace, infrastructure cloud computing, Career Choice, and much more,” Bezos said. “If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive. When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention. Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
Jassy has been with Amazon since May 1997, according to his LinkedIn profile — Bezos founded the company in June 1994. Jassy started as a marketing manager and in 2003 helped to launch Amazon Web Services. He took over his present role in 2016.
As for Amazon’s earnings, they show a relatively robust pandemic holiday shopping season. “Thanks to customers, employees and selling partners, Amazon had a record-breaking holiday season, delivering more than a billion toys, home, fashion, electronics, beauty and personal care products to customers worldwide,” Amazon said.
Amazon also touted the success of its marketplace operations in Q4.
“The 2020 holiday season was the best ever for independent businesses selling on Amazon — nearly all of which are small- and medium-sized businesses — with worldwide sales growing over 50% compared to the same period in 2019,” Amazon said. “Sellers surpassed $4.8 billion in worldwide sales from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, growing about 60% from the previous year.”
For the full year 2020, Amazon reported that revenue increased 38% to $386.1 billion.
During the fourth quarter, Amazon also expanded its food retailing operations. It opened Amazon Fresh grocery stores in seven new communities in the U.S.: Irvine, California; Ladera Heights, California; Naperville, Illinois; North Hollywood, California; Northridge, California; Schaumburg, Illinois; and Whittier, California. To support the continued growth, Amazon is hiring thousands of grocery associates across Chicagoland, the greater Los Angeles area and Seattle.
Amazon also expanded into other retail areas closely associated with grocery stores. Amazon Pharmacy launched in the U.S., bringing prescription medications to customers’ doorsteps. Customers can now browse medications, create a secure pharmacy profile, and request or manage prescriptions on Amazon.com. Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day delivery on Amazon Pharmacy orders with their membership. Amazon also launched a new Amazon Prime prescription savings benefit, which brings pharmacy savings to customers who pay without insurance and can be used at 50,000 participating pharmacies nationwide.