Jeff Blackburn, a longtime Amazon executive who first joined the company after working on its 1997 IPO, is retiring — again.
Amazon posted memos (below) from CEO Andy Jassy and Blackburn sharing the news.
Blackburn previously announced a retirement in February 2021, before proceeding to land a gig at storied venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners. But it was a short stint. He returned to Amazon in May 2021 to lead the Global Media & Entertainment organization that included Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Music, Podcasts/Wondery, Audible, Games, and Twitch.
“The last 18 months have been a thrill — working with all of you in GME and launching some of our biggest, boldest projects ever in entertainment and sports,” Blackburn said in his memo. “But I’ve decided to spend 2023 differently, giving more time to family, and feel strongly this is the right decision for me.”
Blackburn, who attended Dartmouth and Stanford, began his association with Amazon in 1997 when he was a junior investment banker at Deutsche Bank, assigned to work on the Amazon IPO. During his more than two decades of active work at the company, Blackburn led key businesses including Amazon’s third-party sales, Prime Video, Amazon Music and Amazon Advertising, working alongside Bezos on key business initiatives.
In his memo, Jassy praised Blackburn for successes such as the “Rings of Power” streaming TV series on Prime Video; the first season of “Thursday Night Football” on Prime; and the acquisition of Hollywood studio MGM.
“Amazon wouldn’t be the same company without Jeff, and I’d like to thank him for his many contributions to the company’s success thus far and in the future,” Jassy wrote.
Jassy announced some leadership changes as part of the Blackburn retirement. Mike Hopkins, who leads Prime Video, Amazon Studios, and MGM, will continue to lead those teams and report to Jassy. Steve Boom, who has been leading Music and Podcasting teams, will also now oversee Audible, Twitch, and Games businesses — and report to Jassy as well.
Blackburn said he would be leaving the company in January.
Memo from Andy Jassy:
I wanted to share the news that Jeff Blackburn has decided to retire from Amazon.
Jeff joined Amazon in 1998 after helping guide the company through its IPO at Deutsche Bank. He’s done a lot of building over two-plus decades, including helping build our 3P marketplace, Advertising, Amazon Studios/Prime Video, and Music businesses, as well as leading our A9/Search and CorpDev & BusDev orgs.
As you know, Jeff returned to Amazon in May of last year to lead our media and entertainment businesses (Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Music, Podcasts/Wondery, Audible, Games, and Twitch). Over the past year and a half, he’s helped set us up for continued success in media and entertainment. Just to name a few successes, in its first season, Rings of Power broke all previous Prime Video records for the most viewers, and has driven more Prime sign-ups worldwide during its launch window than any other previous content; the first season of Thursday Night Football on Prime is driving higher viewership across the board than last year’s linear TV results for TNF, including with the important 18-34 age demographic where viewership has grown 20% over last season; and we recently closed and integrated the acquisition of MGM. Amazon wouldn’t be the same company without Jeff, and I’d like to thank him for his many contributions to the company’s success thus far and in the future.
We’re going to take this time to make some leadership changes. Mike Hopkins, who leads Prime Video, Amazon Studios, and MGM, will continue to lead these teams and report to me directly. Steve Boom, who has been leading our Music and Podcasting teams, will also now oversee our Audible, Twitch, and Games businesses—and report into me as well. Both Mike and Steve are excellent, deeply experienced leaders, and I look forward to working more with them both (and their teams).
This transition will happen effective January 1st, though Jeff will remain at Amazon through early 2023 to help ensure a smooth transition.
Please feel free to share the news with your teams as you wish.
Memo from Jeff Blackburn:
Team, some news today:
I’m planning on retiring from Amazon in January, after more than 25 years and working closely with the company since its 1997 IPO. The last 18 months have been a thrill – working with all of you in GME and launching some of our biggest, boldest projects ever in entertainment and sports. But I’ve decided to spend 2023 differently, giving more time to family, and feel strongly this is the right decision for me. Andy & I have been working through a transition plan and he’ll be sharing those details soon, stay tuned.
Amazon’s opportunities in media, entertainment and sports have never been bigger. I see exciting times ahead for you all. Please know that I’ll remain close … as a fan, mentor, and ambassador for Amazon’s creative businesses – forever. I’m very grateful for all the close friendships, across all the 25 years, and all of the teams, studios, streaming services and businesses that we were able to build together.
Thank you, amazing Amazonians. –jblack