Jeff Blackburn is retiring.
The head of Amazon’s Global Entertainment Group will sign off from the company in January after more than two decades with the retail giant and streaming platform. The moves were announced Friday via internal memos from Amazon CEO Andy Jassy and Blackburn himself.
The news comes a year and a half after Blackburn returned from a yearlong sabbatical in a new role as head of the company’s global entertainment group that included combined oversight of music, audio entertainment, games and video for the company.
Blackburn’s decision to retire comes after a busy week at Amazon. The e-commerce giant this week fully integrated MGM into its exec ranks after its $8.5 billion purchase of the storied studio closed in May. Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke was given oversight of MGM’s film and TV divisions, while senior vp Mike Hopkins landed premium cable network Epix and unscripted content. With Blackburn’s exit, Hopkins will report directly to Jassy. Salke, who won MGM’s film oversight, reports to Hopkins.
Before his sabbatical, Blackburn had been a key intermediary between Amazon’s head office, Amazon Studios and head Jennifer Salke as Amazon Prime competes in an increasingly competitive streaming space with Netflix and new Hollywood studio entrants.
With Blackburn’s retirement, Jassy said Hopkins will continue to lead Prime Video, Amazon Studios and MGM and will report directly to the CEO. Steve Boom will now add Audible, Twitch and games on top of Amazon’s music and podcasting teams, also reporting to Jassy.
Here are memos from Jassy and Blackburn:
I wanted to share the news that Jeff Blackburn has decided to retire from Amazon.
Jeff joined Amazon in 1998 after helping guide the company through its IPO at Deutsche Bank. He’s done a lot of building over two-plus decades, including helping build our 3P marketplace, Advertising, Amazon Studios/Prime Video, and Music businesses, as well as leading our A9/Search and CorpDev & BusDev orgs.
As you know, Jeff returned to Amazon in May of last year to lead our media and entertainment businesses (Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Music, Podcasts/Wondery, Audible, Games, and Twitch). Over the past year and a half, he’s helped set us up for continued success in media and entertainment. Just to name a few successes, in its first season, Rings of Power broke all previous Prime Video records for the most viewers, and has driven more Prime sign-ups worldwide during its launch window than any other previous content; the first season of Thursday Night Football on Prime is driving higher viewership across the board than last year’s linear TV results for TNF, including with the important 18-34 age demographic where viewership has grown 20% over last season; and we recently closed and integrated the acquisition of MGM. Amazon wouldn’t be the same company without Jeff, and I’d like to thank him for his many contributions to the company’s success thus far and in the future.
We’re going to take this time to make some leadership changes. Mike Hopkins, who leads Prime Video, Amazon Studios, and MGM, will continue to lead these teams and report to me directly. Steve Boom, who has been leading our Music and Podcasting teams, will also now oversee our Audible, Twitch, and Games businesses — and report into me as well. Both Mike and Steve are excellent, deeply experienced leaders, and I look forward to working more with them both (and their teams).
This transition will happen effective January 1st, though Jeff will remain at Amazon through early 2023 to help ensure a smooth transition.
Please feel free to share the news with your teams as you wish.
Team, some news today:
I’m planning on retiring from Amazon in January, after more than 25 years and working closely with the company since its 1997 IPO. The last 18 months have been a thrill – working with all of you in GME and launching some of our biggest, boldest projects ever in entertainment and sports. But I’ve decided to spend 2023 differently, giving more time to family, and feel strongly this is the right decision for me. Andy & I have been working through a transition plan and he’ll be sharing those details soon, stay tuned.
Amazon’s opportunities in media, entertainment and sports have never been bigger. I see exciting times ahead for you all. Please know that I’ll remain close … as a fan, mentor, and ambassador for Amazon’s creative businesses – forever. I’m very grateful for all the close friendships, across all the 25 years, and all of the teams, studios, streaming services and businesses that we were able to build together.
Thank you, amazing Amazonians. –jblack
This story was originally published by The Hollywood Reporter.