Amazon.com Inc. consumer chief Dave Clark is resigning, a possible casualty of a slowdown at the crucial e-commerce business he ran.
The sudden departure signals that Chief Executive Officer Andy Jassy is looking for changes in the company’s consumer division, which overbuilt during the pandemic and left Amazon saddled with excess warehouse space that the company has since begun looking to sublet.
“The past few years have been among the most challenging and unpredictable we’ve faced in the history of Amazon’s Consumer business, and I’m particularly appreciative of Dave’s leadership during that time,” Jassy said in a statement. “As we shared last week during our annual shareholder meeting, we still have more work in front of us to get to where we ultimately want to be in our Consumer business.
“To that end, we’re trying to be thoughtful in our plans for Dave’s succession and any changes we make. I expect to be ready with an update for you over the next few weeks.”
Clark, 49, made significant contributions to Amazon during his 23 years at the company. He started out of business school in 1999, working to manage some of its earliest warehouses, then climbed up the ranks of the logistics division until taking it over in 2012. As head of global fulfillment, he introduced robots into Amazon’s warehouse and took the lead in building a transportation arm, when partners like United Parcel Service Inc. and the U.S. Postal Service proved unable to handle Amazon’s surging demand.
At founder Jeff Bezos’ behest, Clark was also putting in place the pieces for same-day and one-day delivery, which was expensive and probably contributed to the warehouse overbuilding of recent years.
Clark earned a reputation for being remorseless with underperforming employees — one nickname was “The Sniper” — but also for being the one person with intimate knowledge of Amazon’s complex supply chain. His departure leaves a big hole. “I think it’s scary for Amazon,” said a former vice president. “Clark is the architect of that network.”
During Bezos’ tenure as chief executive, Clark ran his show with little day-to-day oversight. But when Bezos stepped aside last year, Clark found himself working for Jassy, who was seeking granular details about Amazon’s businesses, according to three people familiar with the internal dynamics.
Jassy, who had a reputation for micromanaging during his time running Amazon’s cloud division, spent his first year in charge of the entire company diving into all elements of the business. That included hot topics in Clark’s world, including worker safety, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss an internal matter. Clark wasn’t receptive to the extra attention, they said.
Amazon and Clark didn’t immediately comment on the relationship between the two men.
Clark’s move to Dallas from the tony Seattle suburb of Medina also raised eyebrows internally, the people said. The executive had been instrumental in the decisions to set up hubs for Amazon’s logistics division in Bellevue, near Seattle, as well as Nashville. At the end of his tenure at Amazon he was a plane ride away from both.
Read a profile of Dave Clark, Amazon’s ‘Sniper’ of Logistics and Consumer Businesses
Clark was among senior executives whose compensation package was singled out by investment advisory firms who argued his pay should be better tied to company performance. Clark was paid $56 million in 2021.
“To all I’ve had the honor of working with: thank you for making it so much fun to come to work every day for 23 years to invent cool, amazing things for customers,” Clark tweeted on Friday.
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