In a recent profile penned in Vanity Fair, Andy Jassy comes off smelling like a rose. Without the thorns.
According to author Nick Bolton, Amazon‘s newly crowned CEO is the “anti-Bezos” — an unassuming, inoffensive nice guy who really knows how to run a business. In fact, he’s been at the helm of AWS (Amazon Web Services) for a while, growing the service into an operation worth hundreds of billions of dollars — all while somehow somehow avoiding the internecine warfare that so often plagues those of his rank.
Jessy isn’t perfect, Bolton explains. He’s boring, too detail-oriented, and perhaps most egregious, too much of an Amazonian.
It’s true that Bezos could no longer be the face of his own company. Problems with working conditions and wages have stained the company’s reputation. Just recently, in fact, the company suffered a public lashing because it hid internal Covid-19 cases from its own workers. Meanwhile, Bezos racks up billions in personal wealth and targets monstrously expensive space exploration.
But is Jassy the right man to take the helm? It really seems like a thinly-veiled PR move. Bezos will still be chairman of the board, effectively calling the shots with a different title. Jassy, meanwhile, will likely toe the party line, as revealed in Bolton’s lengthy interview. Despite prodding about corporate missteps over the years, he largely championed Amazon’s position.
What Amazon really needs is a cultural shakeup that can only happen if a real anti-Bezos steps in. The company needs a leader who understands employee exploitation, wage imbalance, power dynamics and manipulation, and is willing to admit to wrongdoing with a plan for rectification.
Jassy just doesn’t seem to be that person. While he may be a “nice guy” — counter to the image many of us have of Bezos at this point — it’s only a matter of time until the reputation of the company is conflated with Jassy. As the face of the company, still effectively run by Chairman Bezos, Jassy will likely become another face to represent the exploitation and foibles that have come to characterize Amazon leadership.
I hope that I’m wrong. I hope Jassy is, truly, the anti-Bezos Amazon needs — that we all need. But I’m not holding my breath.