May 20, 2022
Jeff Wilke

Veteran Amazon executive Jeff Wilke, widely tipped to be a successor to Jeff Bezos, will retire early next year, the company has announced.

Wilke has been with Amazon since 1999, and has served as the CEO of the company’s worldwide consumer division since 2016. Dave Clark, Amazon’s current senior vice president for worldwide operations who has also been at the company since 1999, will take over his position.

The 53-year-old’s departure comes as somewhat of a surprise, with company sources saying there was no indication his retirement was being considered. Many had believed he could one day succeed Bezos in leading Amazon should he choose to step down.

The announcement comes during a critical period for Amazon. Demand for deliveries has surged due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and keeping up with demand whilst ensuring the safety of employees has put the company’s operations under strain. The retail giant is also taking heat from lawmakers over its competitive tactics, with Mr. Bezos called to testify on Capitol Hill last month as part of a congressional antitrust probe.

Mr. Wilke made it clear in an email to Amazon staff that he wasn’t leaving his role to pursue a position elsewhere. “So why leave? It’s just time” he said, explaining that he wished to have “time to explore personal interests that have taken a back seat for over two decades.”

Mr. Bezos paid tribute to Wilke in an email of his own to staff, saying the executive “is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable.”