Andy Jassy, CEO of Web Services at Amazon.com Inc., speaks during the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Summit in San Francisco, Calif., On Wednesday, April 19, 2017.
David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
When Amazon announced that Andy Jassy, head of Amazon’s cloud division, would replace founder Jeff Bezos as CEO later that year, the company left out one small detail: the name of the person running the cloud Amazon will run. The omission sparked speculation in tweets, text messages, and Reddit comments.
One name kept popping up: Matt Garman, an engineer who ran Amazon Web Services’ central EC2 virtual computing service for years and was there when he was announced in 2006.
Garman is not very well known to the hordes that come to Las Vegas each year to attend the AWS Reinvent conferences. Garman is not a regular on the Reinvent stage, unlike Werner Vogels, the Polish Chief Technology Officer of Jassy and Amazon, who wears T-shirts. But Garman is highly respected on Amazon – much like Satya Nadella was viewed internally when he took the helm from Microsoft in 2014 from Steve Ballmer.
Just as naming Jassy as Bezos’ successor signals that Amazon is a solid technology company, and not just a retailer, Garman’s choice would show that AWS would become an information technology provider for large corporations like Coca-Cola and GE is not doing this. I don’t want to lose its relevance to programmers.
Garman would be the most logical choice to replace Jassy, said Matt McIlwain, executive director of Madrona Venture Group in Seattle. “I didn’t expect it to be that fast,” said McIlwain.
AWS declined to comment and Garman did not respond to a request for comment.
It’s only been a year since Amazon moved Garman from vice president of Compute Services to vice president of sales and marketing at AWS – effectively chief operating officer of AWS. He also joined the circle of top Amazon executives known as the S-Team. While Garman didn’t have the new job long, it has reshaped its organization, McIlwain said.
“It’s very difficult to be successful on the product side of the house and the sales side of the house,” said McIlwain.
AWS has also increasingly raised him to the press to discuss announcements such as a deal with team communication software maker Slack.
Garman’s experience sets him apart, but there are others that Amazon could leverage to run cloud services instead:
- Peter DeSantis. Over the past four years, DeSantis, another member of the S team, has given a prominent evening lecture to present infrastructure developments such as arm-based server chips. Like Garman, DeSantis witnessed the birth of AWS on Amazon.
- Charlie Bell. Bell is a low profile manager in charge of utility computing services at AWS, and he has been with Amazon for 23 years.
Amazon could also hire someone outside of the company to run AWS. However, Amazon retains unconventional practices and values that could make it difficult for an executive from another company to quickly adjust to such a large role.
One way is to bring back Adam Selipsky, who once held the role Garman does today. Selipsky left AWS in 2016 to run data visualization software maker Tableau, which Salesforce acquired for $ 14.8 billion in 2019.
One thing is clear: Amazon is not going to get Jassy to run the cloud business alongside the rest of Amazon.
Amazon currently employs nearly 1.3 million people, excluding contractors and temporary workers. The company operates in markets beyond cloud and commerce, including advertising and devices. Leading in all of these areas wasn’t even something Jeff Bezos did.
“We will work to fill the AWS role again, and we will talk about it in the future,” said Brian Olsavsky, chief financial officer of Amazon, the analysts in a conference call on Tuesday.
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CLOCK: “It’s not a shock” to see Andy Jassy as CEO of Amazon: Brent Thill