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Power

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.

People

Making the economy work for Black entrepreneurs

Funding for Black-owned startups needs to grow. That's just the start.

"There is no quick fix to close the racial wealth and opportunity gaps, but there are many ways companies can help," said Mastercard's Michael Froman.

Photo: DigitalVision/Getty Images

Michael Froman is the vice chairman and president of Strategic Growth for Mastercard.

When Tanya Van Court's daughter shared her 9th birthday wish list — a bike and an investment account — Tanya had a moment of inspiration. She wondered whether helping more kids get excited about saving for goals and learning simple financial principles could help them build a pathway to financial security. With a goal of reaching every kid in America, she founded Goalsetter, a savings and financial literacy app for kids. Last month, Tanya brought in backers including NBA stars Kevin Durant and Chris Paul, raising $3.9 million in seed funding.

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Michael Froman
Michael Froman serves as vice chairman and president, Strategic Growth for Mastercard. He and his team drive inclusive growth efforts and partner across public and private sectors to address major societal and economic issues. From 2013 to 2017, Mike served as the U.S. trade representative, President Barack Obama’s principal adviser and negotiator on international trade and investment issues. He is a distinguished fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations and a member of the board of directors of The Walt Disney Company.
Sponsored Content

Building better relationships in the age of all-remote work

How Stripe, Xero and ModSquad work with external partners and customers in Slack channels to build stronger, lasting relationships.

Image: Original by Damian Zaleski

Every business leader knows you can learn the most about your customers and partners by meeting them face-to-face. But in the wake of Covid-19, the kinds of conversations that were taking place over coffee, meals and in company halls are now relegated to video conferences—which can be less effective for nurturing relationships—and email.

Email inboxes, with hard-to-search threads and siloed messages, not only slow down communication but are also an easy target for scammers. Earlier this year, Google reported more than 18 million daily malware and phishing emails related to Covid-19 scams in just one week and more than 240 million daily spam messages.

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Policy

Here are Big Tech’s biggest threats from states

The states are moving much quicker than Congress on privacy, taxes and content moderation.

Virginia is expected to be the second state to pass a comprehensive privacy law.

Photo: Ron Cogswell/Flickr

When critics say that Virginia's new privacy bill is "industry-approved," they're not totally wrong, said David Marsden, the state senator who has been working for months to shepherd the law through the state legislature.

It was an Amazon lobbyist who originally presented Marsden with the text of the bill, which hews closely to the failed Washington Privacy Act, versions of which have been pushed by Microsoft across the country.

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Emily Birnbaum

Emily Birnbaum ( @birnbaum_e) is a tech policy reporter with Protocol. Her coverage focuses on the U.S. government's attempts to regulate one of the most powerful industries in the world, with a focus on antitrust, privacy and politics. Previously, she worked as a tech policy reporter with The Hill after spending several months as a breaking news reporter. She is a Bethesda, Maryland native and proud Kenyon College alumna.

Transforming 2021

Blockchain, QR codes and your phone: the race to build vaccine passports

Digital verification systems could give people the freedom to work and travel. Here's how they could actually happen.

One day, you might not need to carry that physical passport around, either.

Photo: CommonPass

There will come a time, hopefully in the near future, when you'll feel comfortable getting on a plane again. You might even stop at the lounge at the airport, head to the regional office when you land and maybe even see a concert that evening. This seemingly distant reality will depend upon vaccine rollouts continuing on schedule, an open-sourced digital verification system and, amazingly, the blockchain.

Several countries around the world have begun to prepare for what comes after vaccinations. Swaths of the population will be vaccinated before others, but that hasn't stopped industries decimated by the pandemic from pioneering ways to get some people back to work and play. One of the most promising efforts is the idea of a "vaccine passport," which would allow individuals to show proof that they've been vaccinated against COVID-19 in a way that could be verified by businesses to allow them to travel, work or relax in public without a great fear of spreading the virus.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

Amazon's new interface tries to rein in the chaos

The company is rolling out a new interface with profiles and a big emphasis on live content to additional Fire TV streaming devices next month.

Amazon's new Fire TV interface is coming to additional streaming devices next month.

Image: Amazon

When Amazon's Fire TV team began pushing out a new interface to select streaming devices in December, it wasn't just aiming for a cosmetic refresh. The new Fire TV experience, which is scheduled to launch on Fire TV Stick 4K and Fire TV Cube devices next month, promises to rein in some of the sprawl caused by Fire TV's last major UI change. However, the new changes also show how hard it can be for TV platforms to do the right thing for consumers without offending content partners.

The idea was simple enough: Instead of making consumers browse bland lists of apps, forcing them to choose whether they'd want to spend their evening with Netflix or Hulu, Amazon's Fire TV team wanted them to get straight to the movies and shows that matter. That's why in late 2016, the company was first among the major smart TV platform providers to introduce what's known in the industry as a content-first user experience, with rows and rows of shows and movies — from various streaming apps — directly on the TV home screen.

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Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

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