Jeff Bezos Is Stepping Down as Amazon CEO to Spend More Time With His Money

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Jeff Bezos, who founded Amazon from his garage in 1994 and turned it into a one-stop shop for on-demand books, tablets, and toilet paper thanks to the backbreaking work of warehouse serfs, will step down from his role later this year, the company said Tuesday. Why is Bezos handing over the reins and transitioning to executive chairman of the board? Bezos wrote a letter to employees about taking the time to focus on his passions, but presumably part of the unspoken reason is basically: My net worth is bigger than the GDP of many small-to-medium-size countries and I don’t feel like attending Zoom meetings anymore. No really, it’s cutting into my time doing whatever else the f–k I want. You know, rich people stuff. Well, not “rich people stuff” so much as “people who make rich people look poor stuff.” I made $152,207 per minute last year, okay? The people who seem rich to you are basically serfs from my vantage point.

In a letter to employees, Bezos wrote: “I’m excited to announce that this Q3 I’ll transition to Executive Chair of the Amazon Board and [cloud executive] Andy Jassy will become CEO. In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives. Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence…. As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition. Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods. Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else. As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions. I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have.” The Day 1 Fund is Bezos’s charitable foundation which, as of 2018, was reportedly not as generous as the Amazon founder would have people believe; in general, Bezos has been accused of being something of a cheapskate in terms of charitable giving, which he didn’t help by once claiming in an interview that he couldn’t think of a way to spend his vast fortune outside of funding his rocket ship company, Blue Origin. The cheapskate calls have been ratcheted up further in light of the fact that his ex-wife, Mackenzie Scott, has given away a f–k-ton of her money.

The news of Bezos stepping down was revealed alongside an earnings report in which Amazon said it had its first $100-plus billion quarter ever. Naturally, the individuals who helped the company rake in $125 billion in revenue will see very little if any of that money. While Bezos’s net worth increased a mind-boggling $75.6 billion as of last December, pushing it to $188 billion, frontline Amazon workers earned just an extra $0.99 per hour (pretax!!!) for each hour worked during the pandemic, according to the Brookings Institution. That happened as the company halted hazard pay despite the continued threat of COVID-19, even though it totally swore it had its low-paid worker’s backs and put out a PSA calling them “heroes,” which John Oliver rightly skewered as bullshit propaganda. Around the same time, employees staged protests in various cities highlighting the unsafe conditions in Amazon’s warehouses, which included a lack of personal protective equipment, an inability to socially distance, and not even being given enough time to wash their hands. During one walkout in Michigan, an employee named Mario Crippen told reporters, “They should not be selling nonessential items…. Dildos are not essential items. Books, for kids, yes. But dildos? No.”

While lowly Amazon employees—nearly 20,000 of whom had tested positive for COVID-19 as of October—will reap almost none of the grueling, unsafe work they did (and continue to do) during the pandemic, the company will be making payments to “Amazon Flex drivers,” i.e. gig employees, after allegedly stealing millions from them. Per Vice News:

Amazon has agreed to pay $61.7 million to settle allegations that it stole its Amazon Flex drivers tips over a two-and-a-half-year period, the Federal Trade Commission said on Tuesday. “Today, the FTC is sanctioning Amazon.com for expanding its business empire by cheating its workers,” FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra wrote in a statement. “Amazon stole nearly one-third of drivers’ tips to pad its own bottom line.” The $61.7 million represents the total amount that Amazon allegedly withheld until it became aware of an investigation by a Federal Trade Commission in 2019.

When Amazon launched its Flex program in 2016, the company regularly advertised that independent contractors who deliver packages in its Flex program would receive “100% of the tips” they earned and would be paid between $18 and $25 an hour, according to the FTC complaint. But shortly after it launched, Amazon quietly changed course and began slashing its payments to drivers and cutting into their tips to make it appear as if it was still paying the promised hourly rate, according to the FTC.

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