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Amazon Leans Into Its Cloud-First Future

By Danny Vena, Brian Stoffel, and Jason Hall - Feb 17, 2021 at 8:00AM

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With the departure of Jeff Bezos, there's a new sheriff in town.

Amazon (AMZN 3.58%) shocked investors last week when the company announced that CEO Jeff Bezos would step down and transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter. What wasn't nearly as surprising was the company's decision to draft Andy Jassy, chief of Amazon Web Services (AWS), to assume the role of CEO. Cloud computing has become the company's biggest moneymaker and funds Amazon's efforts in other areas.

On this clip from Motley Fool Live, recorded on Feb. 3, "The Wrap" host Jason Hall discusses the move and what it says about the company's future.

Jason Hall: I've got three points. One is a reflection on yesterday. My biggest take from yesterday was, and it's remained the case. I think I said that most people, even a lot of investors, view Amazon through the lens of Amazon.com, through that retail business. It drives most of the revenues and it's how most people know about the company.

The lens that Amazon's management views the company is through AWS [Amazon Web Services]. I think that that's largely the case because there is no doubt that that's the most, in terms of cash flow generation, that's the most important part of the business. It generates an enormous amount of the operating cash flows that carry through. That's important.

I've known a little bit about Andy Jassy who's the Head of AWS and is going to be the new CEO, but I really spent a little bit of time over the past day or so reading up a little bit more about him. I knew he'd been at Amazon since, not quite the founding, but very close. He joined the company in 1997, so he's been there a long time.

But what I did know was, I did know his education background and his experience. He has an MBA. He came in as, I think, a marketing manager. This is not an engineer, this is not somebody that came through writing code. This is somebody that started out with a more business-centric view of Amazon.

I think that also says a lot about his skillset. But this isn't a tech specialist that focuses just on the cloud and enterprise and the potential there. This is somebody that has a business mindset and business focus. I think that informs a little bit about how and all of that says to me is that I think it doesn't change really very much how I view Amazon.

Especially considering again, that Bezos is going to remain heavily involved, he's going to be the Executive Chairman. His hands are going to be all over driving strategy. He owns what, 60 million shares? Essentially it's a rounding error from all of his wealth is still from Amazon. He owns Blue Horizon. He pays the bills there by selling Amazon stock.

Amazon is still enormously important to everything that Jeff Bezos wants to do in the world with the exception of the Post, which supports itself with its own revenues, The Washington Post. But it doesn't really change things a lot for me. But it certainly makes the story a lot more interesting. But it does affect how I think about some of the other things that he's involved in because he's going to be involved in them more. It will be fun to see how this plays out.

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