Amazon's head of consumer operations to retire next year

Jeff Wilke, who joined the company in 1999, will be replaced by Dave Clark, who runs worldwide operations.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
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Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon's consumer operations, speaks during the Amazon re:MARS conference on robotics and artificial intelligence in Las Vegas in June 2019.

Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images

Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon's consumer business, plans to retire in the first quarter of 2021 and will be replaced by Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations.

The announcement came in a securities filing on Friday morning and from memos sent out from CEO Jeff Bezos and Wilke to employees.

"I don't have a new job, and am as happy with and proud of Amazon as ever," Wilke, who also goes by the nickname "JAW," said in his memo, later adding, "So why leave?  It's just time. Time for Dave Clark to step in and lead the organization as CEO Worldwide Consumer ... Time for me to take time to explore personal interests that have taken a back seat for over two decades."

Wilke joined Amazon in 1999, when the e-commerce giant was only five years old, and started as an operations executive. He rose in the executive ranks in the operations and consumer businesses to eventually gain the title in 2016 of CEO of the worldwide consumer business.

Clark also joined Amazon in 1999. He was named the head of operations in January 2013 and currently oversees the company's global supply chain, delivery, customer services, physical stores, marketing and Prime.

The changing of the guard is notable because Wilke is one of only three people at Amazon with a CEO title, along with Andy Jassy, who is CEO of Amazon Web Services, and Bezos, who is CEO of the whole company. Those CEO titles for Jassy and Wilke, given in 2016, made them both potential heirs to Bezos when he eventually steps down. At 56, Bezos isn't expected to retire anytime soon.

Worldwide consumer operations are by far Amazon's biggest business, with e-commerce warehouses and delivery networks across the globe. While Clark has been at the company for just as long as Wilke, a transition of leadership will still be necessary.

"Jeff's legacy and impact will live on long after he departs. He is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable," Bezos said in his memo.

Bezos also said he added three new people to his top team of executives, known as the S-team. They are Alicia Boler Davis, who helps run the company's fulfillment centers; John Felton, who helps run delivery services; and Dave Treadwell, part of the e-commerce tech team. Bezos has been adding more women to this group, after being criticized for years for having the S-team dominated by men.