Jeff Blackburn, a longtime top Jeff Bezos lieutenant, is returning to Amazon in a new position, SVP of Global Media & Entertainment. He will oversee all entertainment business that are being consolidated in one unit, including Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Music, Podcasts/Wondery, Audible, Games, and Twitch.
Blackburn, who starts June 7, will report to Bezos until Bezos transitions from CEO to executive chairman in the third quarter; after that, Blackburn will report to incoming CEO Andrew Jassy. Mike Hopkins, Steve Boom, Don Katz, Mike Frazzini and Emmett Shear will now report into Blackburn.
The restructuring gives centralized control over Amazon’s entertainment assets to someone who has strong background in the arena in Blackburn as the CEO job is being transferred from Bazos to Jassy, whose expertise is in cloud computing. It creates an additional top executive layer between Amazon’s streaming operations and the company’s CEO.
Blackburn, SVP and member of outgoing CEO Bezos’ exclusive S-Team, is considered the prime architect of its video-streaming effort. He oversaw Amazon’s video-streaming service for seven years until going on a year-long sabbatical in summer 2019. There had been a lot of speculation whether Blackburn would return from his sabbatical or not. As one of Bezos’ closest associates, it was expected he would be welcomed back in some capacity should he decide to return.
In February 2020, Sony Pictures TV chairman Hopkins joined Amazon, taking over Blackburn’s duties to oversee video entertainment reporting to Bezos. (Blackburn’s wider portfolio of responsibilities also included supervising advertising and business development for the company.)
Blackburn originally joined Amazon in 1998 after helping guide the company through its IPO at Deutsche Bank. He did a lot of building over two-plus decades, including 3P marketplace, Advertising, Amazon Studios/Prime Video, Music, A9/Search, and the Corp Dev org (M&A and BizDev teams).
“Jblack’s interest in returning to Amazon presented us with a good opportunity to combine our entertainment businesses in a single org under a leader who knows them well,” Jassy said in an internal memo. “Often, the best time to make org changes is when things are going well. Fortunately, each of these businesses is on a very positive path—Amazon Studios was recently nominated for 12 Oscars (and won 2 of them!), Prime Video has had 175 million prime members stream shows and movies in the past year and just won the rights to be the exclusive home of NFL Thursday Night Football starting in 2022. Twitch has grown dramatically over the past 15 months and our Games Studio is launching its highly-anticipated game, “New World,” this summer. Music continues to grow quickly and has launched Podcasts now in 10 countries, and Audible Original, “The Sandman,” became the bestselling original in Audible’s history (with a second installment later this year)—these are just a few of the many successes and milestones for these businesses. We believe that bringing them together will help us innovate for creators even more quickly, coherently, and across multiple mediums.”
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