Warren Jenson, Amazon.com's chief financial officer since September 1999, will be leaving the company within the next few months, after helping to recruit his successor. Jenson had no immediate plans, noting only that it was time to "move on to a new set of challenges." Jenson is credited with helping to shore up Amazon's finances. In a previously scheduled conference call with financial analysts, Diego Piacentini, senior v-p for worldwide retail and marketing, said Jenson had brought "discipline" to Amazon and helped build the company's financial infrastructure.

Piacentini was named to his current position in November as part of a companywide restructuring. Piacentini assumed many of the duties held by Amazon veteran David Risher, who had announced that he intended to leave the e-retailer early in 2002. After a brief stint as senior v-p for worldwide application software, Risher resigned from Amazon several weeks ago and was replaced by Jason Kilar.

During the conference call, Piacentini said that the company has seen "pleasant" results from its $99 free shipping policy, which he reiterated was a "permanent" move. He also said that book sales in the quarter "are on track." One initiative that Piacentini hopes to implement in Amazon's international stores is the company's used book option.

B&N.com Suit Settled

Amazon has reached a settlement with Barnesandnoble.com in the lawsuit the company filed two years ago charging B&N with infringing the patent on Amazon's one-click ordering technology. The two sides declined to discuss the terms, leaving open a number of questions about the feature's future use by retailers other than Amazon.

"For all we know, Amazon sold a license for one-click for a dollar to Barnesandnoble.com," said publisher Tim O'Reilly, a technology expert who advocates that companies cooperate more on technology innovations. Amazon already licenses the technology to Apple Computer and, depending on the settlement, other retailers might look to license this feature. B&N.com does not currently use it, despite winning a preliminary injunction that blocked Amazon's suit.

O'Reilly, who had originally criticized Amazon's suit, said he's been pleasantly surprised by what's happened in the patent field over the last two years. "We haven't seen as many cases [of aggressive patenting] because people realize there's a PR backlash," he said.