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Nine things you need to know about the new AWS CEO

Adam Selipsky, CEO of data-viz company Tableau, will become the new head of AWS in May.

Nine things you need to know about the new AWS CEO

Adam Selipsky, the new CEO of AWS.

Photo: David Paul Morris/Getty Images

Adam Selipsky, the current CEO of data visualization company Tableau, will become the new CEO of AWS on May 17, landing what is objectively one of the most important jobs in tech. AWS revenue hit more than $12 billion in the last quarter of 2020, which makes up about 10% of Amazon's total sales, and most industry experts consider this just the beginning for the company's cloud growth.

Here are nine things you should know about Selipsky.

  • He's an AWS veteran. Selipsky was one of the first VPs of AWS in 2005, hired to work at Amazon right before the company launched its first popular data storage services. He went on to run AWS's sales, marketing and support division for more than a decade, helping prime AWS for the behemoth it would become. He helped lead the company's EC2 and S3 storage service when it launched shortly after his hire.
  • He helped nearly quadruple Tableau's value during his time as CEO. Selipsky became Tableau CEO in 2016, and he led the company's transition to subscription licensing for its software, embracing a popular and lucrative trend for SaaS companies at the time.
  • And then he sold to Salesforce. Salesforce acquired Tableau for $15.7 billion in 2019, and Selipsky stayed on as CEO. Most enterprise companies have either Tableau or Salesforce in their stack, opening up a huge new range of potential customers for Salesforce, according to Marc Benioff.
  • Marc Benioff considered Selipsky a key leader at Salesforce. When asked why investors should be paying attention to Salesforce at a Goldman Sachs event in January 2021, Benioff name-checked Selipsky. We "have so many other CEOs in our midst like Adam Selipsky, the CEO of Tableau," Benioff said.
  • Selipsky wasn't necessarily the betting favorite for this job. That would probably have been Matt Garman, the AWS executive who currently holds Selipsky's former role. But Selipsky's role was left empty for years, and Garman was only moved over to that position last year; he was president of the compute services division for years before that.
  • He has a long marketing background. Before he joined AWS, Selipsky was a VP at RealNetworks, where he was eventually responsible for more than a third of the company's revenue. He spent much of his time there as a VP for consumer marketing and a GM for media systems marketing.
  • He's a Seattle native. He's an alumnus of Seattle's Lakeside School, and RealNetworks, AWS and Tableau were and still are based there under his tenure. Seattle also became Salesforce's second headquarters after the Tableau acquisition.
  • He's a Harvard grad through and through. He got both his bachelor's and MBA at Harvard, where he studied government in undergrad.
  • He loves wine and waterskiing. He's a former board member of the Silver Lake Winery in the Seattle area, and he calls himself a "wine guy." He also loves to water ski, and even offered a water skiing experience at a Washington Technology Industry Association Gala.

After he takes on the new role in May, Selipsky will "spend the subsequent weeks transitioning together" with Amazon CEO and former AWS CEO Andy Jassy, before assuming the top job sometime in the fall. And while Selipsky is not what anyone would call an out-of-the-box hire, hey, at least his name isn't Jeff.

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Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the name of the Washington Technology Industry Association Gala. This story was updated on March 24, 2021.

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