In announcing another round of record financial results, Amazon said that founder and CEO Jeff Bezos will turn over his CEO duties to Andy Jassy, currently head of Amazon Web Services (AWS), sometime in this year’s third quarter. Bezos will become executive chairman of Amazon.
With fourth quarter sales jumping 44%, sales for the full year at Amazon rose 38% over 2019, to $386.1 billion. Net income increased 84%, to $21.3 billion. In a statement, Bezos said that Amazon has become the company it is because of innovation. “When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-term cumulative results of invention,” he said. “Right now, I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
The only mention in Amazon’s year-end results regarding the industry which gave Amazon its start, bookselling, was tied to its self-publishing business. More than 1,000 authors using Kindle Direct Publishing had royalties surpassing $100,000 in 2020, Amazon said. In addition, all authors using KDP earned more than $370 million in royalties from their participation in Kindle Unlimited in the year.
The business that Jassy currently runs, AWS, is the company's most profitable operation. Operating income in 2020 was $13.5 billion, an increase of 41% over 2019, on a sales increase of 30%, to $45.3 billion.
Looking ahead to the end of the current quarter, Amazon predicted that sales will jump 33% to 40% over last year's first period. That quarter, the pandemic first hit the U.S., throwing demand for using online shopping services into overdrive.
Amazon doesn't break out full year comparisons by business lines, but it does provide quarterly comparisons. In the fourth quarter, online sales jumped 46% over the last quarter of 2019. Third-party sales rose 57% in the quarter.