Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Heir-Apparent Is Retiring Early After Building The Behemoth

Jeff Bezos (left), founder of Amazon, and Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO of worldwide retail. Getty Images

Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s CEO of worldwide consumer business and a top lieutenant to Jeff Bezos, is stepping down next year, Amazon announced in an SEC filing Friday.

Wilke, 53, will retire early in the first quarter of 2021, the regulatory filing reveals, marking an end to his 22-year tenure at the retail and tech giant. His role will be taken over by current senior vice president of retail operations, Dave Clark.

Wilke joined Amazon in 1999 as an operations manager and has led the company’s expansion in online and physical retail over the past two decades. Until his retirement announcement, Wilke was widely considered to be a potential successor for Bezos should he retire first.

“Jeff’s legacy and impact will live on long after he departs,” Bezos said of Wilke in a memo to Amazon employees on Friday. “He is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable.”

“I’m planning to retire in Q1 of next year.  I don’t have a new job, and am as happy with and proud of Amazon as ever,” wrote Wilke in his letter to employees the same day. “I treasure the deep relationships we forged as we grew this company… We worked hard. And we had a blast. So why leave?  It’s just time.”

In addition to Wilke’s departure, Bezos also made three additions to his S-team, an inner circle of about a dozen senior Amazon executives from various departments, including retail, cloud computing, advertising, among others.

The three new members are: Alicia Boler Davis, Amazon’s vice president of global customer fulfillment, John Felton, vice president of global delivery services, and Dave Treadwell, vice president of Amazon’s e-Commerce Foundation, which oversees the business infrastructure powering Jeff Bezos’ Amazon Heir-Apparent Is Retiring Early After Building The Behemoth