The billionaire will be replaced by Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy sometime in the third quarter of this year.
Mr Bezos, 57, told employees in a letter that he now wanted to concentrate on the “Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, and The Washington Post.”
Mr Bezos, who is the world’s richest man on the Forbes Real Time Billionaires list with a personal wealth of $196.5bn, will transition to executive chairman of the Amazon board.
He has been CEO of the company since he founded it as an online book seller in 1995 and oversaw its spectacular growth as a $1.7 trillion global retailer.
“In the Exec Chair role, I intend to focus my energies and attention on new products and early initiatives,” he wrote in the letter to Amazon employees.
“This journey began some 27 years ago. Amazon was only an idea, and it had no name. The question I was asked most frequently at that time was, ‘What’s the internet?’ Blessedly, I haven’t had to explain that in a long while.
“Today, we employ 1.3 million talented, dedicated people, serve hundreds of millions of customers and businesses, and are widely recognized as one of the most successful companies in the world.”
The news came as part of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings report, which saw it top quarterly sales of $100bn for the first time, and Mr Bezos insisted in the letter that he was not planning on retiring from business.
He also explained some of. things that he would concentrate on away from the day-to-day running of the company.
“As Exec Chair I will stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives but also have the time and energy I need to focus on the Day 1 Fund, the Bezos Earth Fund, Blue Origin, The Washington Post, and my other passions," he wrote.
"I’ve never had more energy, and this isn’t about retiring. I’m super passionate about the impact I think these organisations can have.”
And Mr Bezos said that he had “full confidence” in his replacement.
“Andy is well known inside the company and has been at Amazon almost as long as I have. He will be an outstanding leader, and he has my full confidence,” he said.
Mr Bezos also praised the culture of “invention” at the company.
“I don’t know of another company with an invention track record as good as Amazon’s, and I believe we are at our most inventive right now. I hope you are as proud of our inventiveness as I am. I think you should be,” he added.
He also praised the company’s adoption of a $15 minimum wage and their Climate Pledge commitment to building a sustainable business.
“I find my work meaningful and fun. I get to work with the smartest, most talented, most ingenious teammates,” he wrote.
"When times have been good, you’ve been humble. When times have been tough, you’ve been strong and supportive, and we’ve made each other laugh. It is a joy to work on this team.
"As much as I still tap dance into the office, I’m excited about this transition.
"Millions of customers depend on us for our services, and more than a million employees depend on us for their livelihoods.
“Being the CEO of Amazon is a deep responsibility, and it’s consuming. When you have a responsibility like that, it’s hard to put attention on anything else.”
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