Incoming Amazon.com Inc CEO Andy Jassy cuts a low profile outside of the wonky world of cloud computing. But for much of the last decade he’s been arguably the most important person in the tech industry.
The unit he leads, Amazon Web Services, has reshaped how companies buy technology, by simplifying computing services into their component pieces and offering them essentially for rent over the internet. The business was initially dismissed by enterprise software giants like Oracle Inc. before that company and others quickly sought to emulate elements of AWS’s strategy.
In the same earnings report in which Amazon said Jassy, 53, would succeed Jeff Bezos later this year, the company reported that AWS pulled in $12.7 billion in sales in the fourth quarter, making the unit a $50 billion business on an annual basis.
“Andy brings the first principles thinking that has always been a part of what’s made Amazon successful — deeply trying to understand the end customer, creating building blocks by which other people can build and than being good at rapidly iterating,” said Matt McIlwain, a MD with Madrona Venture Group, who has closely tracked Amazon’s rise. “He watched how Jeff approached problems. That’s very important because there a lot of things that are deeply embedded in the culture of Amazon.”
Jassy has led AWS since before the launch of its first major services in 2006. Cloud computing was not a natural area for Amazon, then almost exclusively an online retail company. But Amazon’s expertise in creating digital systems and running its own sometimes-cumbersome technology, gave Bezos, Jassy and other executives confidence that they could come up with an answer to problems confounding other big corporate technology buyers.