I am honored and humbled to continue the column on executive compensation and corporate governance that Joseph E. Bachelder III wrote for the New York Law Journal for over 30 years. Joe was my esteemed colleague and dear friend at McCarter & English for more than eight years. His keen analytic mind, encyclopedic knowledge, attention to detail, concise writing skills, dogged work ethic and relentless pursuit of excellence greatly influenced me and all that knew him. He was a wonderful teacher and mentor who was always generous with his time. Joe Bachelder is and will always be sorely missed.   

Earlier this year, in connection with Amazon’s public announcement of its record-breaking annual financial results for 2020, Jeffrey P. Bezos, the company’s founder and board chair, CEO or president since its 1994 inception, announced that he would be relinquishing those positions to become Amazon’s executive chairman sometime this autumn. To say Amazon’s 2020 financial results were “record-breaking” understates the matter: Assisted by the effects of the global pandemic, Amazon’s sales of $386 billion represented a 38% increase from 2019 and its net income of $21.3 billion amounted to a whopping 84% increase from 2019. What an opportune time to announce an executive transition! In this article I trace Amazon’s spectacular long-term success and examine its unique executive compensation practices.

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