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Why the next CEO of AWS (most likely) already works for AWS

With a deep bench of company lifers and a unique culture, the call to Andy Jassy's replacement as the next CEO is likely to go inside the house.

Why the next CEO of AWS (most likely) already works for AWS

An informal poll of those inside and outside the company pointed squarely at one person as Andy Jassy's most likely successor: Matt Garman.

Photo: Chesnot/Getty Images

Don't expect Andy Jassy to look too far outside his team of trusted lieutenants when it comes to naming the next CEO of AWS.

Before he takes over as CEO of Amazon later this year, Jassy's main job will be to select his replacement at the head of the leading cloud infrastructure company in the world. It's almost impossible to imagine Jassy and Jeff Bezos, in their last major decision in their current roles, picking a leader from outside AWS, a company that forever changed the way enterprise tech is bought and sold while developing a unique culture along the way.

In the hours following Amazon's announcement of the leadership change, an informal poll of those inside and outside the company pointed squarely at one person as Jassy's most likely successor: Matt Garman, the current leader of AWS' sales organization and a 14-year veteran of the company.

Garman was named to his current position almost exactly a year ago, after a multiyear career inside AWS product development teams. He's also a member of Amazon's S-Team, the influential council of advisers that Bezos assembled over the years and that Jassy is likely to maintain.

Prior to being named as vice president of sales and marketing, Garman ran arguably the most important division at the company: AWS Compute Services. That division includes the flagship EC2 virtual compute service, which Garman worked on as both a product manager and an executive for more than six years before being promoted to vice president in January 2013.

"Matt has the unique experience of having managed both AWS engineering and its sales and marketing teams, giving him a broad perspective on the AWS business," said Ed Anderson, an analyst with Gartner.

That combination of hands-on engineering management and sales management would seem to elevate Garman into a unique category within the cloud company. Charlie Bell and Peter DeSantis are the other members of AWS who are also part of the S-Team, which is as good a short list as any for the leadership gig, although neither has Garman's direct experience with the sales team.

Bell has been an engineer at Amazon since well before the creation of AWS, and he played a fundamental role in building the technical infrastructure that underpinned the company's rise to the top of the cloud computing market. People familiar with the company see Bell as an engineer's engineer, however, and aren't sure he'd want an operational role at this stage in his career.

DeSantis also played an instrumental role in building the sprawling network of AWS data centers around the world, and has been part of two significant hardware innovations in recent years: the Nitro system, a combination of hardware and software that underlies the EC2 computing services, and Graviton, a custom-designed Arm server processor that is turning heads thanks to its strong performance at aggressive prices. For the past several years he has kicked off the company's major user conference, re:Invent, with an opening keynote the evening before Jassy's big address.

Whoever winds up taking over as CEO as AWS will have one of the most enviable gigs in enterprise tech — especially now that the head of Amazon will always have a soft spot for the division. That could prompt any number of high-profile executives outside the company to quietly make themselves available to Jassy for interviews, but multiple people familiar with how AWS operates said they would be shocked to see an outsider take the top job.

Still, the job won't be without challenges.

There's a double-edged sword to reporting to the executive who built AWS, of course, someone who has fairly strong and well-informed opinions on how the company should be run. It's also not clear how the transition will affect the age-old barroom debate over whether AWS should separate from its parent company.

Microsoft and Google have never been stronger competitors, and while the Trump administration's disdain for Amazon and AWS was quite obvious, a new administration could decide to take a closer look at the power over the enterprise market held by AWS. The company has the potential to become one of the most dominant players in the history of the sector, should cloud growth continue well into the next decade.

Still, AWS is firing on all cylinders, recording over $45 billion in revenue during 2020 while generating $13.5 billion in operating income. AWS is the new company you don't get fired for buying, and the most important job of the second CEO in its history will be to make sure that remains true for years to come.

Protocol | China

China’s era of Big Tech Overwork has ended

Tech companies fear public outcry as much as they do regulatory crackdowns.

Chinese tech workers are fed up. Companies fear political and publish backlashes.

Photo: Susan Fisher Plotner/Getty Images

Two years after Chinese tech workers started a decentralized online protest against grueling overtime work culture, and one year after the plight of delivery workers came under the national spotlight, a chorus of Chinese tech giants have finally made high-profile moves to end the grueling work schedules that many believe have fueled the country's spectacular tech boom — and that many others have criticized as exploitative and cruel.

Over the past two months, at least four Chinese tech giants have announced plans to cancel mandatory overtime; some of the changes are companywide, and others are specific to business units. ByteDance, Kuaishou and Meituan's group-buying platform announced the end of a policy called "Big/Small Week," where a six-day workweek is followed by a more moderate schedule. In early June, a game studio owned by Tencent rolled out a policy that mandated employees punch out at 6 p.m. every Wednesday and take the weekends off.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

Over the last year, financial institutions have experienced unprecedented demand from their customers for exposure to cryptocurrency, and we've seen an inflow of institutional dollars driving bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to record prices. Some banks have already launched cryptocurrency programs, but many more are evaluating the market.

That's why we've created the Crypto Maturity Model: an iterative roadmap for cryptocurrency product rollout, enabling financial institutions to evaluate market opportunities while addressing compliance requirements.

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Caitlin Barnett, Chainanalysis
Caitlin’s legal and compliance experience encompasses both cryptocurrency and traditional finance. As Director of Regulation and Compliance at Chainalysis, she helps leading financial institutions strategize and build compliance programs in order to adopt cryptocurrencies and offer new products to their customers. In addition, Caitlin helps facilitate dialogue with regulators and the industry on key policy issues within the cryptocurrency industry.
Power

Brownsville, we have a problem

The money and will of Elon Musk are reshaping a tiny Texas city. Its residents are divided on his vision for SpaceX, but their opinion may not matter at all.

When Musk chose Cameron County, he changed its future irrevocably.

Photo: Verónica G. Cárdenas for Protocol

In Boca Chica, Texas, the coastal prairie stretches to the horizon on either side of the Gulf of Mexico, an endless sandbar topped with floating greenery, wheeling gulls and whipping gusts of wind.

Far above the sea on a foggy March day, the camera feed on the Starship jerked and then froze on an image of orange flames shooting into the gray. From the ground below, onlookers strained to see through the opaque sky. After a moment of quiet, jagged edges of steel started to rain from the clouds, battering the ground near the oceanside launch pad, ripping through the dunes, sinking deep into the sand and flats.

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Anna Kramer

Anna Kramer is a reporter at Protocol (Twitter: @ anna_c_kramer, email: akramer@protocol.com), where she writes about labor and workplace issues. Prior to joining the team, she covered tech and small business for the San Francisco Chronicle and privacy for Bloomberg Law. She is a recent graduate of Brown University, where she studied International Relations and Arabic and wrote her senior thesis about surveillance tools and technological development in the Middle East.

People

Facebook’s push to protect young users is a peek at the future of social

More options, more proactive protections, fewer one-size-fits-all answers for being a person on the internet.

Social media companies are racing to find ways to protect underage people on their apps.

Image: Alexander Shatov/Unsplash

Social media companies used to see themselves as open squares, places where everyone could be together in beautiful, skipping-arm-in-arm harmony. But that's not the vision anymore.

Now, Facebook and others are going private. They're trying to rebuild around small groups and messaging. They're also trying to figure out how to build platforms that work for everyone, that don't try to apply the same set of rules to billions of people around the world, that bring everyone together but on each user's terms. It's tricky.

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editor at large. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

Power

Who owns that hot startup? These insiders want to clear it up.

Cap tables are fundamental to startups. So 10 law firms and startup software vendors are teaming up to standardize what they tell you about investors' stakes.

Cap tables describe the ownership of shares in a startup, but they aren't standardized.

Illustration: Protocol

Behind every startup, there's a cap table. Startups have to start keeping track of who owns what, from the moment they're created, to fundraising from venture capitalists, to an eventual IPO or acquisition.

"Everything that happens that is a sexy thing that's important to the tech world, it really is something having to do with the cap table," said David Wang, chief innovation officer at the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati law firm.

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

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