A powerful Amazon executive who had been considered top contender to succeed Jeff Bezos as chief executive is leaving, the company revealed in a surprise announcement on Friday.
Jeff Wilke — a 20-year veteran at the Seattle-based e-commerce giant who oversees the e-commerce titan’s consumer business, including everything from is Prime business to Whole Foods — will retire early next year, Amazon said in a securities filing.
Wilke had long been seen by many Amazon watchers as the company’s No. 2 executive. He will be succeeded by Dave Clark, who currently serves as senior vice president for worldwide operations.
In a memo titled “Hanging up the flannel,” CEO Jeff Bezos called Wilke “an incredible teacher to all of us,” adding that Clark is well suited to assume Jeff’s role early next year.
“Since Jeff joined the company, I have been lucky enough to have him as my tutor,” Bezos said. “Jeff’s legacy and impact will live on long after he departs. He is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable.”
Amazon declined to comment further on Wilke’s plan to retire.
Shares of Amazon were off 0.3 percent early Friday at $3,286. The company’s stock is up more than 80 percent since March when the coronavirus pandemic began shutting down the United States and stuck-at-home consumers turned to Amazon for their shopping needs.
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