Jeff Bezos To Step Down As Amazon CEO; Andy Jassy To Take Over
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Jeff Bezos To Step Down As Amazon CEO; Andy Jassy To Take Over

The company announced changing roles as it reported that revenue in the fourth quarter soared 44% to US$125.56 billion.

By Dana Mattioli
Wed, Feb 3, 2021 4:16amGrey Clock 4 min

Jeff Bezos is stepping down as chief executive of Amazon.com Inc. to become executive chairman, marking the biggest change in leadership of the tech giant since he started it in a Washington state garage more than 26 years ago.

Amazon said on Tuesday that he will be succeeded as CEO in the third quarter by Andy Jassy, Mr Bezos’s closest lieutenant and the longtime head of the company’s booming cloud-computing business.

Mr Bezos, 57 years old, is handing over the day-to-day reins, as Amazon’s core businesses of online retail and business-computing services are booming during the Covid-19 pandemic, which has shifted work and life to the internet more than ever. The company announced his changing role as it reported that revenue in the fourth quarter soared 44% to US$125.56 billion—surpassing US$100 billion for the first time in a three-month span—and profit more than doubled.

But Amazon also faces the biggest regulatory challenges in its history, with multiple federal investigations into its competitive practices and lawmakers drafting legislation that could force Amazon to restructure its business. Tension with regulators and lawmakers has directly embroiled Mr Bezos, who was called to testify in front of Congress last summer for the first time.

Mr Bezos’s leadership of Amazon has made him one of the most respected, and feared, leaders in business, as well as fantastically wealthy. He is currently neck-and-neck with his rival rocket entrepreneur, Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk, as the world’s wealthiest person. Forbes lists Mr Bezos’s wealth at more than $196 billion.

In an email to employees made public Tuesday, Mr Bezos said he plans to focus his energy now on new products and early initiatives as well as his outside interests. “Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming,” Mr Bezos wrote. “When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”

Mr Bezos’s move makes Amazon the latest of today’s tech giants to transition leadership away from the people who started them. The co-founders of Google stepped back from their management roles at its parent Alphabet Inc. in 2019, and both Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp. have long been run by successors to their founders.

Mr Bezos left a career on Wall Street to start Amazon.com in 1994 as a scrappy online bookseller during a time when most Americans didn’t own computers. Amazon became an against-all-odds success story that would go on to completely disrupt the bookselling industry along with nearly every other industry in its path, from logistics to advertising. The company today is America’s largest online retailer, the leading provider of cloud-computing services, a significant player in Hollywood, a competitor in bricks-and-mortar groceries through its Whole Foods subsidiary, and a growing rival to United Parcel Service Inc. and FedEx Corp. in logistics. Amazon employs nearly 1.3 million people.

The executive imbued the Seattle-based company with a “Day 1” philosophy of always maintaining an underdog startup ethos. However, in recent years, Mr Bezos has stepped back from day-to-day management of the tech giant—with a brief pause when he became more actively involved in the early days of the pandemic. Many in his inner circle describe Mr Bezos’s role over the past few years as akin to that of an executive chairman. The executive famously tries to not schedule meetings before 10 a.m. and to make all of his tough decisions before 5 p.m. Amazon employees say the billionaire is elusive, with many saying they have never spotted him on the company’s sprawling downtown Seattle campus.

In 2016, he appointed two of his top deputies to oversee management of daily operations. Jeff Wilke was named CEO of world-wide consumer at Amazon, overseeing everything from Amazon’s retail arm and warehouses to its advertising and devices business. Mr Jassy was CEO of the cloud business, called Amazon Web Services.

The appointments freed up Mr Bezos to devote time to innovations and moonshots. He took on pet projects such as Amazon’s voice assistant product, the Echo, and spent time with Amazon’s studio executives on what movies and television programs it had in the pipeline.

Mr Bezos’s tightknit group of top lieutenants at Amazon has seen its ranks thin out in the past few years. In addition to Mr Wilke’s departure at the beginning of the year, Jeff Blackburn, a 20-year veteran and member of Mr Bezos’s team of top executives, took a sabbatical in 2020. Steve Kessel, another member of Mr. Bezos’s top executives, retired from the company last year.

Beyond Amazon, Mr Bezos bought the Washington Post in 2013 and has spent a sizable chunk of his time at Blue Origin LLC, the space company he founded. While the coronavirus pandemic re-engaged Mr Bezos, as the company had to deal with unprecedented demand, he remained involved with Blue Origin’s mission. Just last week Mr Bezos posted a photo on Instagram of a “hotfire test” of a Blue Origin engine.

Mr Bezos, a father of four children, also has experienced a major transition in his personal life recently. In 2019, Mr Bezos and his wife divorced and the National Enquirer tabloid reported his affair with a former television reporter who was the wife of a Hollywood executive.

The leadership transition at Amazon will take place as it grapples with unprecedented scrutiny.

The company is currently the subject of probes from the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission, the European Union and other governing agencies about whether it participates in anticompetitive practices.

In October, the House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee—before which Mr Bezos testified in July—concluded its 16-month investigation into the biggest U.S. tech companies. Its report accused Amazon of exerting “monopoly power” over sellers on its website and suggested legislation that could cause Amazon to exit business lines—like its private-label or devices businesses—that compete with sellers on its platform.

In response to the Congressional report, Amazon said: “All large organisations attract the attention of regulators, and we welcome that scrutiny. But large companies are not dominant by definition, and the presumption that success can only be the result of anticompetitive behaviour is simply wrong.”

On Tuesday, a member of the committee, Ken Buck (R., Colo.), tweeted Amazon’s announcement saying: “I have some questions for Mr Jassy,” indicating that the new CEO will inherit much of the regulatory scrutiny from his predecessor.



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
By LAURIE KAHLE
Mon, Jun 24, 2024 4 min

Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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