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Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will step down as Amazon CEO

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos.
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. (Image credit: Blue Origin)

Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos announced Tuesday (Feb. 2) that he is stepping down this year to focus on other initiatives, including his spaceflight company Blue Origin. 

Bezos announced his plan to step down in a letter to Amazon employees, who he addressed as his "fellow Amazonians." Bezos plans to stay involved with the company, but in Q3 (July-September) he'll transition to the role of executive chair of the Amazon board. Andy Jassy, the current CEO of Amazon Web Services, will replace Bezos as CEO of the company, according to the letter. 

"In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives," Bezos wrote in the letter to staff. "Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence." 

Related: NASA adds Blue Origin's New Glenn rocket as a launcher for future missions

Bezos wrote that he will remain engaged in important Amazon initiatives as Exec Chair. However, this new role will allow him the time and energy he needs to focus on other projects, including the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, and The Washington Post — among other passions. 

"I'm super passionate about the impact I think these organizations can have," Bezos wrote in the letter. 

Blue Origin is best known for being the first in the world to successfully land a reusable rocket on a landing pad. On Jan. 14, the company successfully launched its first upgraded New Shepard spacecraft for astronauts, the RSS First Step, on an uncrewed suborbital test flight, marking a big step toward human spaceflight. 

"Invention is the root of our success," Bezos said in the letter. "Keep inventing, and don't despair when at first the idea looks crazy. Remember to wander. Let curiosity be your compass."

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Samantha Mathewson joined Space.com as an intern in the summer of 2016. She received a B.A. in Journalism and Environmental Science at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut. Previously, her work has been published in Nature World News. When not writing or reading about science, Samantha enjoys traveling to new places and taking photos! You can follow her on Twitter @Sam_Ashley13.