18/12/2022

The decision to leave the shadow position vacant suggests Jeff Bezos may be spending more time on non-Amazon issues.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos no longer has a “shadow” advisor, a highly coveted role within the company from which some of Amazon’s most senior executives have been groomed. 
The position, formally titled technical advisor to the CEO, entails following the billionaire founder around for a year or two, with the goal of learning about all parts of the company. The job has been empty since earlier this month, after Wei Gao, the most recent shadow, moved on to become VP of grocery tech, product, and supply chain management, Business Insider has learned.
The shadow position doesn’t show up under Bezos’s team anymore, according to an internal organizational chart seen by Business Insider.
Amazon’s spokesperson declined to comment.
The change comes at a time when Bezos is facing unprecedented scrutiny over Amazon and his personal life. Just this week, several reports suggested the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s involvement in hacking Bezos’s phone, in part to influence the Bezos-owned Washington Post’s coverage of the Arab country. At the same time, US presidential candidates and lawmakers from around the world are attacking Amazon from all angles, criticizing the company’s growing market power and aggressive business practices.
The decision to leave the shadow position vacant suggests Bezos may be spending more time on non-Amazon issues. The shadow accompanies Bezos everywhere he goes, including all meetings. But with less of his time spent at Amazon, Bezos may have found it difficult to accommodate the position. Bezos is increasingly devoting more time to some of his other personal projects, such as his space exploration company Blue Origin.
It’s unclear if the change is permanent or if Bezos plans to hire a new shadow again. The current vacancy, however, is unusual — in the past, shadow transitions typically happen quickly, with almost no gap in between the personnel change.
Bezos has always had a shadow since the late 1990s, but formalized the position in 2003 when Andy Jassy, the current CEO of Amazon’s AWS cloud division, took the role, according to a 2013 Bloomberg report. Bezos first got the idea for a shadow from Intel, where the position has been in place for years, the report said.
Most of Amazon’s top executives have their own shadows. For example, Jeff Wilke, CEO of worldwide consumer, lets former marketplace manager Yunyang Wang shadow him, while hardware boss Dave Limp has hired Jon Kirk, director of Echo and Alexa, as his technical advisor last year. Meanwhile, Amazon press and policy boss Jay Carney doesn’t have one.
Previous shadows of Bezos have gone on to run important parts of Amazon. Besides Jassy, executives leading Amazon’s India business and its cashierless Go stores have all filled the position in the past. 
Here are the 7 most high-profile executives who were previously Bezos’s shadow advisor: