In 1994, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched one of the biggest success stories in modern business history. What began strictly as an online bookseller slowly evolved into a purveyor of hundreds of different product lines. That helped Amazon (AMZN) to grow into a global e-commerce and cloud computing giant, with a $1.8 trillion market capitalization value as of July 22, 2021.
Bezos is widely lauded as a visionary in e-commerce. But he owes much of his success to the management team that helped develop Amazon’s many silos and executed the company’s rapid growth.
Below, we sketch out the profiles of Amazon’s founder and six of the company’s top executives. We highlight the various roles they have held at Amazon, their contributions to the company, previous roles at other companies, and their educational backgrounds.
- Since launching Amazon in 1994, founder Jeff Bezos has grown the company into a giant global corporation with a market capitalization value of nearly $1.8 trillion.
- Bezos owes much of his success to his management team.
- Bezos is one of the world’s richest people, with an estimated net worth of $206 billion as of July 22, 2021.
Jeffrey P. Bezos
- Current position(s): Executive chair
- Joined Amazon: Founded the company in 1994
- Education: BSE in electrical engineering and computer science from Princeton University
Jeff Bezos currently serves as Amazon’s executive chair, stepping down from his role as chief executive officer (CEO) in July 2021.
He launched Amazon as an online bookstore from the garage of his rental home in Seattle in 1994, and it has since grown into one of the biggest companies in the world. From cloud computing to groceries to advertising to healthcare, Amazon has made itself felt in just about every major industry.
Under his leadership, Amazon in 2005 launched Amazon Prime, which offered two-day shipping on more than one million items when the standard in the retail industry was up to six days. Amazon Prime has since added access to video and music streaming and now boasts more than 150 million subscribers worldwide. In 2006, the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing platform was launched under Bezos’ direction. He also helped Amazon build its own delivery and logistics business. By July 2020, Amazon was delivering nearly two-thirds of its own packages.
Before founding Amazon, Bezos worked for a telecommunications start-up named Fitel. He also worked at Banker’s Trust, which is now a part of Deutsche Bank AG, and at hedge fund D.E. Shaw.
- Current position(s): President and chief executive officer (CEO)
- Joined Amazon: 1997
- Education: A.B. from Harvard University and MBA from Harvard Business School
Andy Jassy currently serves as Amazon’s president and CEO, recently taking over from Bezos in July 2021. He also serves on the board of directors. Jassy is considered the founder of AWS, which he had led since its 2006 inception—including as its CEO, beginning in April 2016—until July 2021.
Under his leadership, AWS has become the most broadly adopted cloud platform, with a 32% share of the $150 billion global cloud market as of the end of the first quarter of 2021. AWS is the company’s most profitable major business.
Jassy’s success has been attributed to his ability to attract a range of different types of businesses and organizations to the AWS cloud platform, including the Central Intelligence Agency, Democratic National Committee, Pinterest Inc., Lyft Inc., and more. He first joined the company in 1997 and held various leadership roles before founding AWS.
Brian T. Olsavsky
- Current position(s): Senior vice president and chief financial officer
- Joined Amazon: April 2002
- Education: B.S. in mechanical engineering from Penn State and MBA in finance from Carnegie Mellon University
Brian Olsavsky first joined Amazon in the spring of 2002 and has been senior vice president (SVP) and chief financial officer (CFO) since June 2015. He oversees Amazon’s overall financial activities, including tax, treasury, investor relations, internal audit, and other financial operations.
Prior to his current positions, Olsavsky was Amazon’s vice president (VP) of Finance and CFO for the company’s Global Consumer Business. In those roles, he oversaw the company’s websites and merchant services, as well as fulfillment operations and subsidiaries.
Olsavsky also served as VP of Finance for Amazon’s North America retail business unit and acquisitions from 2007 to 2010. He was in charge of the finance departments for Amazon’s Worldwide Operations organization from 2002 to 2007.
Prior to joining Amazon, Olsavsky served in financial and other roles at Fisher Scientific, BF Goodrich, and Union Carbide.
David H. Clark
- Current position(s): Chief executive officer, Worldwide Consumer
- Joined Amazon: 1999
- Education: B.A. in music education from Auburn University and MBA from the University of Tennessee
David Clark is CEO of Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer division, a role he has held since January 2021. He joined Amazon after graduating from business school in 1999, beginning in the Pathways leadership development program. He has held numerous roles, including SVP of Worldwide Operations, VP of Worldwide Operations, VP of Global Customer Fulfillment, and VP of North America Operations.
Clark played a key role in Amazon’s $775 million acquisition of Kiva Systems Inc. in 2012, which was the second largest deal in Amazon’s history at the time. Kiva makes robots that locate products in Amazon’s warehouses and bring those products to warehouse workers. Clark also helped the company create its own air delivery network in 2016.
Shelley L. Reynolds
- Current position(s): Vice president, Worldwide Controller
- Joined Amazon: February 2006
- Education: B.A. from the University of Washington Foster School of Business
Shelley Reynolds is VP, Worldwide Controller, a role in which she oversees Amazon’s global accounting functions. She first joined the company in February 2006, assuming the role of VP of Finance and Controller.
A year later, she was promoted to VP, Worldwide Controller and principal accounting officer. Reynolds has been a key manager in helping Amazon to develop accounting systems capable of scaling in tandem with Amazon’s incredible growth. Prior to joining the company, she spent 19 years at Deloitte & Touche LLP, where she was a partner from 1998 to 2006.
Adam N. Selipsky
- Current position(s): Chief executive officer, Amazon Web Services
- Joined Amazon: 2005
- Education: A.B. from Harvard University and MBA from Harvard Business School
Adam Selipsky is CEO of AWS, having recently replaced Amazon’s new CEO, Andy Jassy. Unlike some of the other executives, Selipsky’s tenure with Amazon has not been continuous. He first joined the company in 2005 as VP of Marketing, Sales and Support for AWS, a role he held until September 2016.
During those 11 years, he played a key role in helping to build AWS. But in 2016, Selipsky left Amazon to become president and CEO of Tableau, a provider of data analytics software-as-a-service (SaaS). He held those positions until May 2021, when he returned to Amazon. Prior to first joining Amazon, he held various positions at RealNetworks Inc., an Internet streaming media company, and was a principal at strategy consulting firm Mercer Management Consulting.
David A. Zapolsky
- Current position(s): Senior vice president, general counsel and secretary
- Joined Amazon: November 1999
- Education: B.A. in music from Columbia University and J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley
David Zapolsky has been SVP, general counsel and secretary since May 2014. He has played a key role over the past year in advising Amazon on a number of matters involving various legal issues, including scrutiny of the company’s competitive practices and a unionization effort.
Zapolsky previously was VP, general counsel and secretary, starting in September 2012. Prior to that, he was promoted to VP in April 2002 after joining Amazon in November 1999 as associate general counsel for Litigation and Regulatory matters. Before joining Amazon, he served as a partner at the Seattle offices of Dorsey & Whitney and Bogle & Gates, as an assistant district attorney in the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office, and as a practicing lawyer at Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz.