Key Amazon Exec Who Oversees Video Streaming Taking Leave Of Absence

By Patrick Hipes, Dominic Patten

Timothee Chalamet, Rachel Brosnahan Jeff Blackburn
Timothee Chalamet, left, Rachel Brosnahan and Amazon Studios' Jeff Blackburn after this year's Golden Globes Todd Williamson/January Images/Shutterstock

Jeff Blackburn, who as Amazon’s SVP Business and Corporate Development is the key executive overseeing the company’s streaming service and is seen as one of Jeff Bezos’ core advisers, is taking a one-year sabbatical beginning next year.

An Amazon spokesperson said the 21-year Amazon veteran, frequently on watchers’ shortlists as a potential successor to Bezos if the founder ever decide to leave, would begin his leave early next year, and that “we look forward to welcoming him back in 2021.”

Blackburn oversees Amazon’s business units including Prime Video, Amazon Studios now run by Jennifer Salke, Amazon Music, Amazon Advertising and the company’s third-party business.

We hear Salke, brought aboard to run the studio in February 2018 to re-orient Amazon’s original content business, sent out an email Wednesday reassuring staffers that it’s business as usual at Amazon Studios despite Blackburn’s departure. The company over the weekend held its annual TCA summer press tour sessions in Beverly Hills.

The move, which is not altogether unusual in Amazon’s corporate culture, comes after Amazon last week reported second-quarter results that were a bit softer than Wall Street had expected. A 21% rise in expenses in the quarter, in part due to the push to roll out one-day delivery, dented profits.

Nevertheless, Bezos at the time pointed to one-day delivery as a quarterly highlight. “We’ve received a lot of positive feedback and seen accelerating sales growth,” he said. “Free one-day delivery is now available to Prime members on more than ten million items, and we’re just getting started.”

This year’s Prime Day — actually a two-day happening on July 15-16, was again the largest shopping event in company history, Amazon said, adding it welcomed more new Prime members on July 15 than any previous day, and almost as many on July 16, making these the two biggest days ever for member signups.

Amazon’s earnings release included no additional insights into Prime Video.

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