- Unlike other tech giants that saw a series of executive departures or varying degrees of reshuffles last year, Amazon’s executives at the highest level largely remained unchanged.
- That trust and comfort between Jeff Bezos and the rest of the leadership team will once again come under the spotlight this year, since stability at the top is considered one of the key reasons for Amazon’s success.
- Still, almost all of the top executives at its consumer-facing businesses, like retail, cloud, and hardware, are exclusively white men — only four of the 48 executives in those roles are women.
During Amazon's most recent all-hands staff meeting held in November, CEO Jeff Bezos explained why he's no longer taking live questions from employees at the event. Some questions had become too specific to small teams, he said, and the new format would allow employees from all over the world to more easily submit questions.
The change, however, wasn't made to avoid tough questions, Bezos said — because in the worst case, he added with a laugh, he could just defer those to his executive team members.
"There's no question that could stymie me because I'm so comfortable saying 'I don't know,'" Bezos said, according to a recording of the meeting heard by CNBC. "If [the question] is super hard, I just delegate it."
Bezos' comment about delegation was a joke, but it also reflects an important aspect of his leadership culture: the camaraderie he's built over the years with his most senior executives at Amazon.
That trust and comfort between Bezos and the rest of the leadership is important, since stability at the top is one of the key reasons for Amazon's success. Amazon is known for seeing very little turnover among its most important power players, with many of them having been at the company for years, if not decades — a point Bezos previously highlighted as one of the company's strengths.
According to an internal organization chart seen by CNBC, Amazon's executives at the highest level are largely unchanged from the leadership chart CNBC put together in November 2017. Bezos, for example, lost only one of his direct reports, who was already on a two-year hiatus.
There have been some notable changes among lower-level executives, however. Unusually, Amazon saw several departures among its VP-level executives last year, while Bezos lost two of his S-Team members, a tight-knit group of over a dozen senior executives famous for seeing very few departures historically.
One thing has not changed: Almost all of the executives at the top of Amazon's consumer-facing businesses, like retail, cloud and hardware, are white men. Only four of the 48 executives in those roles are women. That number goes up slightly if you include PR and HR roles, but Beth Galetti, senior vice president of human resources, is still Bezos' only female direct report.
There are still no African-Americans and only a handful of people of Asian descent in this group. However, many of the "shadow" advisor roles, a highly coveted temporary position that follows top executives to every meeting for training purposes, are women.
Amazon's representative wasn't immediately available for comment.
Here are the the six most important decision-makers at Amazon and their direct reports, excluding non-consumer-facing roles, like HR, finance and legal:
Bezos saw almost no change in his direct reports last year, except for one very notable loss.
As CNBC reported in December, Diego Piacentini, a longtime Amazon executive and one of its largest shareholders, decided to leave the company following a two-year hiatus working with the Italian government.
Piacentini's departure was particularly interesting because it was the second S-Team loss in 2018, after Sebastian Gunningham, SVP of marketplace, left in March. S-Team members don't necessarily report directly to Bezos as they move around the company leading different projects.
Bezos also got a new shadow advisor in Wei Gao, the second woman ever to fill the role.
- Jeff Wilke, CEO of worldwide consumer
- Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services
- Jeff Blackburn, SVP, business and corporate development
- Dave Limp, SVP, Amazon devices, digital management
- Brian Olsavsky, SVP & CFO
- David Zapolsky, SVP & general counsel
- Beth Galetti, SVP, human resources
- Jay Carney, SVP, corporate affairs
- Wei Gao, VP Technical Advisor to CEO
Wilke's team saw some turnover last year, as at least five of his direct reports left or changed roles. Greg Greeley, VP of Prime, and Chee Chew, VP of consumer engagement, each left for Airbnb and Twilio, respectively. Gunningham went to WeWork.
Peter Faricy, who took over most of Gunningham's responsibilities last year, also left the company after a reshuffling in the marketplace team. Neil Lindsay, VP of marketing, took over Greeley's former role, and now manages worldwide marketing and the Prime program. Sukumar Rathnam, VP of Selection and Catalog Systems, was briefly one of Wilke's direct reports last year, but is now reporting to someone else within Wilke's organization.
Russ Grandinetti, who runs international business, has the largest number of direct reports under him, as Amazon is aggressively expanding its presence overseas. Sarah Jane Gunter, who was Wilke's shadow assistant, has been replaced by Yunyan Wang, a woman of Chinese descent.
- Dave Clark, SVP, Worldwide Operations
- Dave Treadwell, VP, eCommerce Foundation
- Doug Herrington, SVP, North America Consumer
- Gur Kimchi, VP, Prime Air
- Neil Lindsay, VP, WW Prime and Marketing, WW Advertising and Marketing
- Pat Bajari, VP and Chief Economist
- Russell Grandinetti, SVP International Consumer
- Steven Kessel, SVP Physical Stores
- Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos
- Yunyan Wang, Technical Advisor, Consumer
Jassy's team also saw a few changes in his direct reports last year. Scott Wiltamuth, former VP of development & management tools, joined the machine learning services team. Brent Jaye, VP of AWS Support, still lists that title on his LinkedIn profile, but no longer reports to Jassy, according to the company's internal organization chart.
Krystal Walsh-Allen, Jassy's shadow advisor, has been replaced by Doug Yeum, formerly head of Amazon Korea.
Also, Adam Bosworth, who joined from Salesforce in 2017, is now in charge of AWS New Products, likely related to AWS Everyone, a secretive project for "low code/no code" software, as Geekwire previously reported.
There is also a couple of leaders who aren't part of AWS but nonetheless report to Jassy. Babak Parviz, who runs the secretive Grand Challenge team, is organizationally under AWS' CEO, as is Twitch founder Emmett Shear. But it's unclear how involved Jassy is in the day to day operations of those units.
- Adam Bosworth, VP, AWS New Products
- Alex Yung, VP, AWS Sales China
- Ariel Kelman, VP, AWS WW Marketing
- Babak Parviz, VP, Grand Challenge
- Bing Gordon, Strategic Advisor
- Charlie Bell, SVP Utility Computing Services
- Doug Yeum, Director, Technical Advisor, AWS
- Emmett Shear, CEO, Office of CEO
- James Hamilton, VP/Distinguished Engineer, AWS
- Michael Frazzini, VP, Game Services and Studios
- Mike Clayville, VP, WW Sales & BD, AWS Commercial Sales
- Peter DeSantis, VP, AWS Global Infrastructure
- Stephen Schmidt, Chief Info Sec Officer, AWS Security
- Teresa Carlson, VP, Worldwide Pubic Sector Sales
- Werner Vogels, VP and CTO
Blackburn, who manages the "other" parts of Amazon, like its advertising and video services, saw two changes in his direct reports. Albert Cheng, who temporarily took over Roy Price's job as head of Amazon Studios in 2017, has been replaced by Jennifer Salke. Jason Ropell, who worked closely with Price, has also left.
Amazon's advertising boss Paul Kotas, IMDB's Col Needham, and Amazon Music's Steve Boom all report up to Blackburn as well.
- Col Needham, Founder & CEO, IMDb
- Dan Jedda, VP, DAC Finance
- David Shearer, VP, WW Business Development
- Greg Hart, VP, WW Amazon Video, DV Core Platform
- Jennifer Salke, Head of Amazon Studios, DV Prime Video TV
- Paul Kotas, SVP, Amazon Advertising
- Peter Krawiec, VP, WW Corporate Development
- Steve Boom, VP Digital Music
Limp, in charge of all hardware and Alexa voice assistant teams, didn't see much change either. Only Douglas Booms is no longer reporting to Limp, but he still remains within his organization.
A secretive robotics project called "Vesta," which is reported to be a new home robot, according to Bloomberg, is run by Gregg Zehr, a longtime Lab126 executive.
Ring CEO Jamie Siminoff, who joined Amazon after it bought Ring for nearly $1 billion last year, and S-Team member Tom Taylor also report to Limp.
- Gregg Zehr, President, Lab126
- Jae Park, Head of UX Design, Devices and Services
- Jamie Siminoff, CEO, Ring
- Jorrit Van der Meulen, VP, Amazon Devices International (EU)
- Linda Ranz, Technical Assistant, Amazon Devices
- Lindo St. Angel, VP, Hardware
- Marc Whitten, VP, Fire TV
- Melissa Eamer, VP, Devices
- Robert Stites, VP, Operations and Supply Chain
- Robert Williams, VP, Software
- Tom Taylor, SVP, Alexa Management
Carney, the former press secretary to President Barack Obama, is in charge of all of Amazon's corporate communications and public relations, as well as public policy globally. His team is likely to see increased pressure this year, as Amazon finds its way to navigate through the policy issues surrounding the company.
The biggest change is the hiring of Susan Pointer from Google, who is now handling all public policy issues for both the Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions. As a result, at least five of Carney's previous direct reports, are no longer reporting straight to him.
Some of Carney's team members have background in the government, which makes sense given the potential for more regulatory scrutiny in the company. Michael Punke served as the U.S. ambassador to the World Trade Organization for seven years, before joining Amazon in early 2017. Brian Huseman was at the Federal Trade Commission for over seven years as well.
Two notable additions to Carney's direct reports are Tamara Golihew and Vicky Eguia. Golihew is in charge of Amazon Studios PR, while Eguia does PR for Amazon's Original Movies team. Those two now report to Carney after Craig Berman, former Amazon Studios PR chief left last year.
- Brian Huseman, VP, Public Policy, Americas
- Christina Lee, VP, Consumer PR
- Drew Herdener, VP, PR, Corporate Communications
- Mary Camarata, Global PR, AWS
- Michael Punke, VP, Global AWS Public Policy
- Paul Misener, VP, Global Innovation Policy
- Susan Pointer, VP, Public Policy, EMEA & APAC
- Tamara Golihew, Director of PR, Amazon Studios
- Vicky Eguia, Director of Publicity, Amazon Original Movies