Jeff Blackburn, whose 22-year career at Amazon culminated in an oversight role for the company’s streaming efforts, has concluded his sabbatical and announced his departure from the company.
The news, which came through a memo posted on the company’s intranet, the contents of which were first reported by GeekWire, was not unexpected. The executive, who has been a close advisor to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, announced his sabbatical plan in the summer of 2019. Licensing began in early 2020.
As senior vice president of business and corporate development, Blackburn led Prime Video, Amazon Studios (now led by Jennifer Salke), and the company’s music, advertising and third-party businesses. In early 2020, former Hulu, Sony and Fox executive Mike Hopkins moved to Amazon in a high-level position, handling much of what was on Blackburn’s plate and reporting directly to Bezos.
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In his memo to colleagues, Blackburn wrote: “I am not retiring and will soon hear from me on what is next for me.” Bezos responded by noting that Blackburn “has kept me up to date on his next chapter, and I can assure you it’s very exciting!” She added: “I predict that Jeff will be just as amazing in his new role as he has been in all of his roles at Amazon. Easy prediction. Congratulations to you, Jeff. “
Speculation about who would succeed Bezos as CEO concerned Blackburn and other top executives such as former retail chief Jeff Wilke, who ended up announcing his plan to leave the company next month. Another longtime Bezos lieutenant received praise for the top job: Amazon Web Services chief Andy Jassy will take over Bezos this summer, and the founder will remain CEO.
While Blackburn’s domain grew to include a number of operations, a degree of uncertainty about the company’s streaming plans hangs over the company. Without a doubt, it is a colossal force in the world of entertainment. Its Fire TV streaming device system serves more than 50 million households and Prime Video is making aggressive moves to acquire and launch high-profile projects. Already a member of the NFL, Amazon is seen as a potential candidate to make a play for the exclusive rights to Thursday night football in the ongoing long-term licensing league negotiations. The talks are expected to result in an agreement in the coming weeks.