Corporate Governance for Managers-Amazon case study

Case study: Amazon: president, CEO, and chair

Amazon was started by Jeff Bezos as an online bookseller from his home in Seattle, Washington State. He had previously been vice-president of a Wall Street firm. In July 1994, Bezos incorporated a company in the US state of Washington called Cadabra (from the conjuring phrase ‘abracadabra’). A year later, he incorporated Amazon in the state of Delaware, a state with friendlier Companies legislation and company courts. The Cadabra business was backed into the new company.

Amazon then diversified with CDs, videos, and software, adding the downloading and streaming of film, and Kindles and other e-readers when the technology became available. But Amazon’s great strength lay in its mastery of cloud computing, allowing it to offer infrastructure worldwide with merchandising platforms for its own and other companies’ products. Amazon provides several websites in the USA, and others in Australia, Brazil, France, Germany, Holland, India, Japan, and elsewhere. Amazon is the largest retailer in the United States, by market capitalization, having over-taken Walmart since 2015.

Corporate governance at Amazon

Amazon’s website has a lot of corporate governance information on its investor relations home page including:

  • Financial reports;
  • SEC filings;
  • Shareholder letters (including the founder’s comments on corporate philosophy and policies);
  • Press releases on investor matters;
  • Shareholder webcasts and a webcast archive.
  • The founder and other owners connected with him maintain their control over the company with a class of shares that have dominant voting rights
  • The board has twelve members and three standing committees:
  • Audit committee;
  • Nominating and corporate governance committees;
  • Leadership development and compensation committee.

More information is available from the website:

Executive Officers of the Company

Executive Officers Directors

The following tables set forth certain information regarding our executive officers and Directors as of January 20, 2021

Information about our executive officers

Name                              Age          position

Jeffrey P. Bezos             57           President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board

David H. Clark                48           CEO, Worldwide Consumer

Andrew R. Jassy            53           CEO Amazon Web Services

Brian T, Olsavsky            57           Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer

Shelley L. Reynolds       56           Vice President, Worldwide Controller, and Principal Accounting Officer

David A. Zaspolsky        57           Senior Vice President, General Counsel, and Secretary

Directors and their membership of board committees

Board of Directors

Name                                  Age                        Position

Jeffrey P. Bezos                 57           President, Chief Executive Officer, and Chairman of the Board

Keith B. Alexander            69           Co-CEO, President, and Chair of IronNet Cybersecurity, Inc

Rosalind G. Brewer           58           Group President, Americas and Chief Operating Officer, Starbucks Corporation

Jamie S. Gorelick             70           Partner, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP

Daniel P. Huttenlocher     62           Dean, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing

Judith A. McGrath            68           Former Chair and CEO, MTV Networks

Indra K. Nooyi                    65           Former Chief Executive Officer , PepsiCo, Inc

Jonathan J. Rubinstein    64           Former co-CEO, Bridgewater Associates, LP

Thomas O. Ryder               76           Retired, Former Chair, Reader’s Digest Association, Inc

Patricia Q. Stonesifer        64           Former President and ChiefExecutive Officer, Martha’s Table

Wendell P. Weeks               61           Chief Executive Officer, Coming Incorporated


On Wednesday 26 May 2021 Jeff Bezos has announced at the company’s annual shareholder meeting that he will formally step down as Amazon CEO on July 5 2021. Andy Jassy, Amazon’s cloud computing boss, will take over Bezos’ role.

Discussion questions:

  1. Jeff Bezos has the title of president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board. Some of the members of his board also carry multiple titles such as chairman, president, and CEO. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of such centralization of authority and power in one person.
  2. Does Amazon have a well-balanced and effective board? Provide your evaluation and comments.