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Amazon Exec Who Oversaw Kindle, Physical Stores, to Depart

Steve Kessel, a longtime Amazonian and a member of Jeff Bezos’s senior leadership team, is planning to leave the company early next year, Geekwire reported on Friday. 

His departure signals a changing of the guard for Bezos’s senior leadership team, a group that has been relatively stable since Amazon’s early days. Jeff Blackburn, another member of Bezos’s S team, is planning to go on leave next year.

Kessel, who oversaw Kindle, recently led Amazon’s push into physical retail stores. He said in the internal note obtained by Geekwire that he plans to focus on community service and nonprofit work. 

Kessel has overseen Amazon’s push into physical retail, which includes Whole Foods. The company also has cashierless “Go” stores as well as bookstores and “Amazon 4 Star” stores, which sell products that have a rating of at least that many stars on Amazon.com. While the company has many bets in physical retail, it’s unclear how successful they’ve been. Amazon Go, for example, is behind compared to the company’s internal projections last year, we reported in September.

Dave Clark, another longtime Amazonian and S team member, will take over Kessel’s areas of responsibilities, Geekwire reported. That creates a fairly large empire for Clark, who already oversees operations, transportation and the Prime program.

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