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Originally published September 3, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Page modified September 4, 2014 at 6:34 AM

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Amazon CFO Szkutak to retire next June

Brian Olsavsky, a finance executive in the company’s consumer business, will replace Szkutak.


Seattle Times business reporter

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Amazon.com Chief Financial Officer Thomas Szkutak plans to retire next June, ending a more than 12-year run as the online retailer’s top finance executive.

Brian Olsavsky, vice president of finance for Amazon’s global consumer business, will succeed Szkutak.

During Szkutak’s tenure as CFO, Amazon has grown into a dominant tech and retail brand, entering new markets such as making mobile devices and offering corporate-computing services in addition to emerging as the largest online retailer in the world. Throughout, shareholders have largely given Szkutak and Amazon a pass on generating profits, as long as the company has been able to increase revenue sizably.

Since the beginning of the year, though, investors have become restive about Amazon’s scant profits, as sales have begun to taper. The company’s shares are off nearly 17 percent since hitting a high of $407.05 in January.

Amazon’s stock closed at $339 Wednesday, down $3.38, after the company announced the move.

“Tom’s impact over the past 12 years is evident in every part of our business,” Amazon Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “Under Tom’s stewardship, customers have benefited from category expansion and geographical expansion, along with amazing new businesses like AWS and Kindle.”

Like most Amazon executives, Szkutak rarely has offered details beyond what securities regulations require. At the annual shareholder meeting in May, Bezos told a shareholder who asked about the company’s penchant for secrecy: “We talk when we have something to say.” It’s an approach that Szkutak followed in investor relations.

The company, for example, doesn’t participate in the myriad investor conferences at which many other CFOs make presentations. And Szkutak’s quarterly conference calls with analysts, while cordial, are often notable for their opaqueness.

An Amazon spokesman said neither Szkutak, 53, nor Olsavsky, 51, was available to comment. In a statement, Szkutak said he plans to spend “more time with my family and [on] other outside interests.”

Like many of the long-tenured Amazon executives, Szkutak has amassed a fortune in Amazon stock. According to the company’s latest proxy statement, filed in April, Szkutak is sitting on $16 million in Amazon stock.

What’s more, by the time he retires next June, he’ll receive as many as 42,455 shares through restricted stock unit awards that would be worth $14.4 million at Amazon’s current share price.

For the past three years, Szkutak has had an annual salary of $160,000.

Jay Greene: 206-464-2231 or jgreene@seattletimes.com. Twitter @greene



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