Amazon CEO Andy Jassi is turning down Bezos’ path

When Jeff Bezos was the chief executive of Amazon, he took handstand to company business in Washington. He rarely lobbied legislators. Have testified only once before Congress under threat of subpoena.

Andy Jassi, mr. Bezos’ successor is trying a different approach.

Since becoming Amazon’s chief executive in July last year, Mr. Yassy, ​​54, has traveled to Washington at least three times to cross Capitol Hill and visit the White House. In September, he met with Ron Klein, President Biden’s chief of staff. He urged Senator Chuck Schumer, Democratic Majority Leader, to lobby against antitrust laws and spoke with Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, about Amazon’s new corporate campus in the state.

“He was very inquisitive,” said M. Kane, who dated Mr. Yassy at the Capitol in September and spoke to him on the phone last month. mr. Yassy was diplomatic, not looking to “amaze you” with “strength of personality”, mr. Kane said, and he came prepared, knowing the tasks of the legislator’s committee.

mr. Yassy’s actions in Washington are a sign that a new era is dawning at Amazon. An executive who joined the company in 1997 and built it Amazon web services cloud computing business, following Mr. Bezos followed in his footsteps for many years and was considered one of his closest aides. Succession last year was largely seen as a continuation d. Bezos culture and methods.

But Mr. Yassy has quietly left his mark on Amazon, making more changes than many company insiders and observers expected.

He delved into the key aspects of the business that Mr. Bezos was running, alienated deputies, especially logistics. He acknowledged that Amazon had grown too big and needed to cut costs by closing its physical bookstores and investing some money. ice warehouse expansion plans. He started stormy leadership overhaul. And while he affirmed the company’s opposition to unions, he also took a more conciliatory tone with Amazon’s 1.6 million employees.

The strongest difference from Mr. Bezos could be a much more hands-on approach for the new CEO to the regulatory and political issues in Washington.

mr. According to Matt McIlwain, a managing partner at Seattle-based Madrona Venture Group, which was one of the company’s early investors, Jassie was more about exploring Amazon’s broader role as an employer and society beyond customer service.

“I think those things matter more to Andy,” said Mr. McIlwain, who has known Mr. Bezos and Mr. Iasi for over two decades. “Jeff has a more libertarian mindset.”

mr. Yassy’s efforts may be born of necessity. Political leaders, activists and academics are eyeing Amazon for its dominance. In response, the company expanded its lobbying apparatus in Washington, spending $19.3 million on federal lobbying in 2021, up from $2.2 million a decade earlier. according to OpenSecretswhich tracks influence in Washington.

His problems are growing. Federal Trade Commission, chaired by a legal scholar Lina Khan, is investigating whether Amazon violated antitrust laws. Last year, mr. Biden threw his support Amazon workers trying to unionize; he has since hosted a union organizer from the Amazon warehouse in the Oval Office. And Congress may soon vote on antitrust legislation that would make it harder for Amazon to prioritize its own brands over those offered by competitors on its site.

This was stated by the representative of Amazon Tina Pelkey. company’s previous statement what Mr. Yassy said “meets with politicians on both sides of the aisle on policy issues that may affect our clients.” The company refused to make Mr. Jaycee is available for an interview.

mr. Bezos’ ambitions in Washington used to be mostly social. His property of The Washington Post brought him to the city, where he bought a mansion in the Kalorama area. But employees at Amazon’s Washington DC office sometimes didn’t know when he was in town. An Amazon team led by Jay Carney, a former White House press secretary, fought to isolate Mr. Bezos from the company’s critics.

mr. Yassy, ​​who was a member of the Republican Club while at Harvard and has donated to business-friendly Democrats in recent years, immediately made helping Amazon manage the regulatory framework a priority. After Mr. Bezos announced that he resigns as head of Amazon Last year, Mr. Jassi called a group of company executives to an antitrust briefing, two people familiar with the meeting said.

In August Iasi appeared at the White House Cyber ​​Security Summit. In September, he toured Capitol Hill to meet with all four members of the Congressional leadership. He also called for Democratic senators from Washington state, where Amazon is headquartered, and a Republican senator from Tennessee, where the company has expanded its logistics operations.

Some Democrats have pushed Mr. Jassy to allow Amazon workers to unionize and resist government restrictions on abortion, said a person familiar with the previously reported conversations. Politico. This was stated by the leader of the Republican Party Kevin McCarthy. Jassy to focus on building products and stay away from controversial political and social issues, a person with knowledge of the meeting said.

A spokesman for Mr. McCarthy declined to comment on the meeting.

In the same week, Mr. Yassy met with Mr. Klein at the White House, two people with knowledge of the meeting said. They discussed the state of the economy and other issues, one of the people said.

The White House spokesman said that M. Klein regularly met with leaders and leaders of trade unions, mostly by phone, but sometimes in person.

Amazon’s most immediate regulatory threat is the proposed U.S. Online Innovation and Choice Act, which would prevent major digital platforms from giving their own products preferential treatment.

One of the Democratic cosponsors of the bill, Virginia Senator Mark Warner, met with Mr. C. Yassi in Washington in December to discuss China’s influence on technology. At another meeting this year in Seattle, Mr. Warner said he told Mr. Yassey that he was concerned about how Amazon could copy the merchandise of sellers who used his website.

mr. Yassy “will be someone who is likely to be more involved in these political disputes with DC than Bezos is as a founder,” Mr. Warner said.

Amazon has opposed the law, arguing that the company already supports small businesses selling products on its site. He said that if the bill passes, he may be forced to drop the fast delivery promise at the heart of his Prime subscription service. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, the Minnesota Democrat behind the bill, called the idea that he would “outlaw” Amazon Prime “a lie.”

mr. Yassi also discussed Amazon’s opposition to antitrust proposals with lawmakers and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, whom he knew from concurrent classes at Harvard, people familiar with the matter said. mr. Yassy said to the lady. Raimondo on Amazon’s problems with new antitrust rules in Europe that she believes are unfairly targeting her business, one of the sources said. RS. Raimondo has criticized European laws, saying they have a disproportionate impact on US tech companies.

This was announced by the representative of the Ministry of Commerce. Raimondo supported the proposed US antitrust legislation and spoke with Mr. Yassy. A spokeswoman declined to comment on their conversation.

As Amazon faces the possibility of a federal antitrust lawsuit and continues to be skeptical of its strength, Mr. Jassi may be a strong supporter of the company, said Daniel Obl, senior fellow at OpenSecrets.

“Few lobbyists would even be able to sit down or even call most members of the leadership of Congress,” he said. “But of course the Amazon CEO can reach everyone by phone.”