Jeff Blackburn, senior vice president of business and corporate development at Amazon, is leaving the company after a one-year hiatus, adding to recent turnover among Amazon executives.
Blackburn, who took a year off in 2020, was considered one of CEO Jeff Bezos’ main lieutenants during his 22-year tenure at Amazon and was often mentioned as a potential successor to Bezos. Blackburn has held positions at various companies throughout his time at the company, including Amazon’s Prime Video streaming unit, its Amazon Studios film division, Amazon Music and its advertising unit.
News of Blackburn’s departure and his farewell note have already been reported by GeekWire. An Amazon spokesperson confirmed his departure to CNBC.
Blackburn announced his exit from the company in an internal memo sent to members of the S-Team at Bezos, a tight-knit group of more than a dozen senior executives from nearly every area of Amazon’s business, such as retail, cloud computing, advertising and operations. .
Blackburn’s departure from Amazon is significant. He has long been a close advisor to Bezos and has deep roots in the business, having joined Amazon after working on the company’s IPO as a junior investment banker at Deutsche Bank.
“I made the Excel templates, wrote pieces of AMZN’s IPO prospectus, etc.,” Blackburn wrote in the memo. “One of the things that stood out to me so far is that it was I who carried all of the team’s heaviest bags during our three weeks of traveling the world.
“I joined Amazon full time soon after … During my 22 years, I’d like to think that I never stopped helping carry those heavier bags,” Blackburn added.
Blackburn wrote in the note that he is not retiring and “will have news of what awaits me soon”.
In response to Blackburn’s memo, Bezos thanked Blackburn for his more than two decades of leadership and praised him for being “a builder.” He added: “When you speak, I find myself leaning over and listening intently – always.”
Blackburn’s departure from Amazon comes as Bezos prepares to step down as CEO later this year, handing management over to the company’s chief cloud chief, AWS CEO Andy Jassy.
The company has recently undergone a leadership transition in its core retail business. Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon’s global consumer business, resigned earlier this year. Dave Clark, who was senior vice president of retail operations, took over the role from Wilke.
Here’s the full memo Blackburn sent to the S-Team and Bezos’ response to the memo:
Of: Jeff Blackburn
Topic: Forever “jblack”
S-team: I have an important update for all of you, an update that I know you have been waiting for a long time … The “too much Jeff” bug that has been bothering many of you for two decades has been corrected! Over the years we’ve always had several Jeffs on the s-team – Jeff Wilke, Jeff B, myself and for a while Jeff Holden. This is actually how I became “jblack” for many of you and for Amazon employees. Wilke’s retirement meant one less Jeff, and today I’m taking him back to the original.
I’m officially leaving Amazon today. At the end of 1996, I was a junior investment banker at Deutsche Bank, assigned to a potential Amazon IPO project. I made the Excel templates, wrote pieces of AMZN’s IPO prospectus, etc. One of the things that remain to me to this day is that it was me who carried all of the team’s heaviest bags during our three weeks of traveling the world. There was no zoom or chime, so it was a pretty exhausting process back then.
In early 1998, legendary CFO Joy Covey told me that the website could become more than books… “You just have to come here now, trust me.” Wow, you mean like tapes, CDs and VHS? Made.
I joined Amazon full time shortly thereafter. I would do a lot of building with you all – 3P marketplace, M&A and BusDev teams, A9, Advertising, Amazon Music, Prime Video, Amazon Studios. During my 22 years, I would like to think that I never stopped helping carry those heavier bags. New initiatives, those that required extra courage and long-term thinking from our team. And I hope that on the sidelines, I pushed s-team and Amazon to be even more daring, to see in the turns, to think big. With the core business in a position as strong as ever, I know this is what customers will expect from you over the next decade.
Great new s-team leaders have stepped into these great roles and continue to build and invent boldly. I especially admire and salute your leadership over the past 11 months: Watching the business run during COVID has been amazing – your teams deliver the best of Amazon when the best is needed most.
I want to thank you all for your friendship, teamwork and support. What an incredible 22 years this has been together – I will cherish it, forever. I am not retiring and will have news of what awaits me soon.
Of course, today, I formally abandon “jblack @”. I just have one request – that I stay forever “jblack” in the lanes of Amazon. It would be an honor
Of: Jeff Bezos
Topic: RE: Forever “jblack”
It was a lucky day for us when you were assigned to this IPO roadshow. Looking at yourself as a junior investment banker, it was easy to see your nasty intelligence – fully on display. But who knew that you would be so driven by a relentless urge to invent and pioneer? From the marketplace and advertising to the launch of Prime Video and Amazon Studios, you’ve been a builder. And you all helped us with everything – not just the things that you were directing. You have good judgment and your point of view is never redundant. When you speak, I lean in and listen intently – always.
Thank you for over two decades of leadership. To keep us all exploring. To carry all those bags.
While it’s not quite ready to share, jblack has kept me posted on its next chapter, and I can assure you it’s very exciting! I predict Jeff will be just as amazing in his new role as he has been in all of his roles at Amazon. Easy prediction. Congratulations to you, Jeff.
Your friend always,
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