Jeff Bezos, who will be succeeded by Andy Jassy as Amazon's CEO later this year, had a "whacking" brush with his successor 24 years ago when the latter was a young recruit at the company.
Although it would be safe to say that Bezos has forgiven Jassy for his inadvertent transgression now, the long-time Amazon executive had made his first significant impression on the former during a "broomball" game at the company when he accidentally whacked Bezos with a kayak paddle.
Jassy, 53, who heads Amazon Web Services (AWS), joined the company as a marketing manager in 1997 after passing out from Harvard Business School with an MBA degree.
As recounted in Brad Stone's 2013 book, 'The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon', the incident occurred during a company "broomball" game, which was introduced by one of the Amazon's vice-presidents at a company conference.
Fun fact, one of the first impressions new Amazon CEO @ajassy made on Jeff Bezos was whacking him in the head with a kayak paddle in a game of broom ball, circa '97. Considering Bezos isn't going anywhere, Jassy's rise to the top spot may be the bigger story today.— Brad Stone (@BradStone) February 2, 2021
Stone chronicled that the setup of the game was a bit unorthodox. "Players swatted a kickball on the lawn with brooms and other random implements from his garage," he wrote, further narrating that "an undercurrent of intense competition" during the game was denotative of Bezos' expansionist worldview.
"In other words [broomball] perfectly expressed the temperament of Jeff Bezos, who stopped by the meeting and threw himself into the inaugural Amazon broomball contest with gusto. At one point, Andy Jassy, then a new recruit from Harvard, made his first significant impression at the company by inadvertently hitting Bezos in the head with a kayak paddle. Later, Bezos dove after the ball into some hedges and tore his blue oxford shirt," Stone noted.
Bezos, in a letter to Amazon employees, announced that he will transition to the role of executive chair in the third quarter, and hand over the CEO role to Jassy. He added that he would "stay engaged in important Amazon initiatives".