Steve Kessel announced his plan to leave Amazon in an internal email Friday. (Amazon File Photo)
Steve Kessel, the Amazon executive who oversaw the e-commerce giant’s landmark expansion into bricks-and-mortar retail, plans leave the company early next year.
The 20-year Amazon veteran, who also led the launch of the original Kindle e-reader earlier in his career, informed his team of the news in an internal email Friday morning, obtained by GeekWire. He said he is leaving “to focus on community service, not for profit work, and other areas of interest.” Amazon confirmed the news in a statement to GeekWire.
“It’s hard to leave something I’ve loved doing for so long, inventing alongside a fantastic group of people, but it’s a good time to make this change because of the teams and plans we have in place,” Kessel wrote in the email.
Kessel’s teams will report to Dave Clark, senior vice of worldwide operations, who oversees areas including Amazon Prime, transportation and fulfillment.
Amazon SVP of Worldwide Operations Dave Clark in front of an Amazon last-mile delivery van. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)
When Kessel returned from sabbatical in 2012 to work on what was then a secret project, Amazon had little to no bricks-and-mortar retail presence.
Today, Amazon’s physical retail footprint includes 23 opened or announced Amazon Go grocery stores; 20 open or announced Amazon Books locations; nine open or announced 4-Star stores; and multiple “Presented by Amazon” kiosks in malls.
Kessel’s role leading the company’s physical retail initiatives also includes oversight of Whole Foods Market, with more than 500 stores, acquired by Amazon for $13.7 billion in 2019.
“Steve will be missed – he’s a customer obsessed leader who has helped build some of Amazon’s most innovative businesses, including Kindle, Amazon Go, and others,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We wish him the best in his next chapter.”
Here is the full text of Kessel’s email.
I want to let everyone know that after 20 years at Amazon I’m closing this chapter (I started at Amazon in 1999 on the books team and spent 7 years working on Kindle so a book metaphor was a must!) and leaving Amazon to focus on community service, not for profit work, and other areas of interest. It’s hard to leave something I’ve loved doing for so long, inventing alongside a fantastic group of people, but it’s a good time to make this change because of the teams and …read more