Dave Clark, Amazon Worldwide Consumer CEO, leaves abruptly after 23 years with tech giant

Amazon Consumer CEO Dave Clark at the Amazon Prime Air introduction. (GeekWire File Photo / Kevin Lisota)

One of Amazon’s longtime leaders, Worldwide Consumer CEO Dave Clark, is leaving the company to pursue unspecified “other opportunities” in an abrupt exit from the tech giant’s executive ranks.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who succeeded founder Jeff Bezos in the role less than a year ago, announced the news in an email to employees Friday morning, describing the move as Clark’s decision.

The company named no immediate successor. Clark’s last day will be July 1.

Amazon still has “more work in front of us to get to where we ultimately want to be in our Consumer business,” Jassy wrote. “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 was reported last year to have sold his home in the Seattle area and moved to the Dallas area. The move raised eyebrows, but was brushed off by the company at the time as natural given his geographically diverse workforce.

Previously the head of Amazon worldwide operations, Clark became Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer CEO in early 2021, succeeding Jeff Wilke in the role. His tenure was characterized by unprecedented challenges for the company, including the fallout from the pandemic, and a push by Amazon warehouse workers to unionize.

“As much as I have loved the ride, it is time for me to say goodbye to start a new journey,” Clark wrote to Amazon staff. “For some time, I have discussed my intent to transition out of Amazon with my family and others close to me, but I wanted to ensure the teams were setup for success. I feel confident that time is now.”

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He added, “We have a great leadership team across the Consumer business that is ready to take on more as the company evolves past the customer experience challenges we took on during the COVID-19 pandemic. We also have a solid multi-year plan to fight the inflationary challenges we are facing in 2022. I leave knowing that the leaders in the Consumer business are world class and will take the next phase of Amazon to remarkable levels of success.”

Clark gave no indication of his future plans.

Earlier this week, the National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint against the company over alleged violations of labor law in advance of the ultimately successful union vote at its Staten Island, N.Y., facility.

Separately, several prominent Democratic members of Congress sent Jassy a letter asking for more information about Amazon’s plans for a chat app for warehouse workers, and an initial idea to block specific keywords such as “union,” “pay raise” and “plantation” from use in the app. Amazon has called the April 4 Intercept report premature, and said it doesn’t reflect the company’s actual plans.

Amazon’s consumer business has been struggling financially in recent months, after the company added more workers and warehouse capacity than it ultimately needed in response to the pandemic. Jassy told shareholders last week that he was “confident we’ll get back to a healthy level of profitability in our consumer business.”

The company would have posted an operating loss of more than $2.8 billion in the first quarter if not for its profitable Amazon Web Services cloud unit, which Jassy previously led.

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Clark received a salary of $175,000 for 2021 and restricted stock valued at more than $55 million. The company describes this stock award and $12.6 million of his $46 million in 2020 stock awards as “special grants” issued in conjunction with his promotion to Worldwide Consumer CEO, collectively vesting over seven years.

Vesting of these grants typically requires continued employment at the company.

Amazon provided no further details in an SEC filing noting Clark’s departure.

Here is the full note from Jassy to employees this morning:

After 23 years with Amazon, Dave Clark has decided to leave the company to pursue other opportunities. His last day in the office will be July 1.

Dave joined our Operations Pathways Program in May 1999—just a day after graduating from his MBA program—and he took the leap from teaching music to helping us build and scale our Consumer Operations. Dave has had an increasingly large impact across the company, starting as an Operations Manager in Kentucky, growing to a GM in the Northeast, stepping up to lead WW Operations, and then eventually leading all of WW Consumer. He’s led teams who’ve designed several generations of FCs, built out Amazon’s transportation network from scratch, and has developed significant talent throughout the organization.

Please join me in thanking Dave for his many accomplishments over the years at Amazon and especially for what he’s delivered for customers. 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.

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.

While change is never easy, I’m optimistic about the plan that the Consumer team has built and have confidence that if we stay focused on executing it, we’ll deliver the right experiences for customers and results for the business.

Please feel free to cascade to your leaders and teams.

Thanks,

Andy

Updated with details on NLRB complaint and Congressional letter.

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