Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos said he is transitioning to executive chairman in the third quarter, ending Sept. 30. The world’s richest man will see his CEO title assumed by Andy Jassy at that time. Jassy has been with Amazon since 1997, and was instrumental in the development of Amazon Web Services, arguably the company’s most-profitable operating unit.
“If you do it right, a few years after a surprising invention, the new thing has become normal. People yawn. That yawn is the greatest compliment an inventor can receive,” the 57-year-old Bezos said in a statement. “When you look at our financial results, what you’re actually seeing are the long-run cumulative results of invention. Right now I see Amazon at its most inventive ever, making it an optimal time for this transition.”
The e-commerce pioneer posted record fourth-quarter and fiscal-year (ended Dec. 31, 2020) results. The company generated $125.5 billion in quarterly revenue, up 44% from $87.4 billion in the previous-year period. Annual revenue topped an eye-watering $386 billion, up almost 38% from $280.5 billion in 2019.
Online sales in Q4 topped $66.4 billion, up 46% from sales of $45.6 billion in the previous-year period. For the year, sales topped $197 billion. E-commerce includes myriad products, but the Seattle-based company points out that revenue includes media products available in both a physical (DVD and 4K UHD and Blu-ray Disc) and digital format, such as books, music, videos, games and software. These product sales include digital products sold on a transactional basis.
Prime Video continued to launch Amazon Original series and movies globally. Amazon Original movie Borat Subsequent Moviefilm, starring Sacha Baron Cohen, generated tens of millions of customer streams globally on opening weekend. Other Amazon Original movies included Uncle Frank, Sylvie’s Love, Sound of Metal and I’m Your Woman. New and returning Amazon Original series and specials included “What the Constitution Means to Me,” “Utopia,” “Truth Seekers,” “The Pack,” “Small Axe,” “The Wilds,”
“The Expanse,” “Yearly Departed” and the final season of “Vikings.”
Internationally, locally produced Amazon Originals debuting included “FERRO” (Italy), “El Cid “(Spain), “The Challenge: ETA”(Spain), “BILD.Macht.Deutschland?” (Germany), “Binge Reloaded” (Germany), “Truth Seekers” (UK), “The Grand Tour: A Massive Hunt” (UK), “All or Nothing: Tottenham Hotspur” (UK), “The Bachelorette” (Japan), “Mirzapur” (India) and “Locas por el Cambio” (Mexico).
The fourth quarter marked Prime Video’s strongest viewership for live sports globally. In the U.S., Prime Video’s exclusive coverage of the San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals game on Dec. 26 drew an estimated 11.2 million total viewers and delivered the highest digital average-minute-audience ever for an NFL regular season game.
In the U.K., the number of customers tuning into live Premier League football grew for the second season as millions watched 22 live and exclusive matches on Prime Video. In addition, millions of Prime members streamed live, international rugby for the first-ever Autumn Nations Cup tournament; and in India, Prime Video announced its first foray into live sports, with the acquisition of India territory rights for New Zealand Cricket through 2025-26.
Amazon Studios announced deals for upcoming Prime Video series and movies, including the Eddie Murphy comedy Coming 2 America, which premieres in March on Prime Video globally and an unscripted docuseries and new coming of-age series based on Jessica Simpson’s best-selling memoir Open Book.