SEATTLE — Jeff Wilke, the chief executive of Amazon’s vast consumer business, said on Friday that he planned to retire early next year after more than two decades with the company, in a rare changing of the guard at the top of the e-commerce giant.
Mr. Wilke, 53, has been one of two chiefs of specific businesses at Amazon who report to Jeff Bezos, the company’s founder and chief executive. (The other chief of a business is Andy Jassy, who leads Amazon’s cloud computing business.) Mr. Wilke is the most senior executive to leave Amazon amid a wave of departures from Mr. Bezos’s leadership team in recent years, with the men who built the company retiring or turning to other ventures.
In an email to staff, Mr. Wilke wrote, “So why leave? It’s just time.” He said he did not have another job lined up and has been “as happy with and proud of Amazon as ever.” He added that he was ready to have “time to explore personal interests that have taken a back seat for over two decades.”
Mr. Bezos, also in an email to the company, said Mr. Wilke “is simply one of those people without whom Amazon would be completely unrecognizable.”
Dave Clark, the senior vice president who has run Amazon’s operations, including its logistics and supply chain, will take over Mr. Wilke’s role of chief executive of the consumer business.
Amazon did not immediately have an official comment and Mr. Wilke did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mr. Wilke joined Amazon in 1999 in operations, eventually becoming an executive in the broader retail business. In 2016, Mr. Bezos named him chief executive of the consumer business, a new role, at the same time he made Mr. Jassy chief executive of Amazon’s cloud computing business.
Mr. Clark has been ascendant in recent years as Amazon has invested billions of dollars in expanding its operations, building hundreds of warehouses as well as its own network of trucks and last-mile delivery.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.