A Conversation with Andy Jassy, Amazon Web Services

Head of Amazon Web Services Andy Jassy and Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker

Photo: Silicon Valley Bank CEO Greg Becker with Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services

As part of our ongoing series of conversations with influencers in the innovation ecosystem around the world, I had the pleasure of sitting down with Andy Jassy, head of Amazon Web Services, for an event with 75 of our clients in Seattle this week.

The stories of how businesses really got started are always fascinating to me, so I was listening closely when Andy recalled sharing the original six-page business plan and vision document for AWS with Jeff Bezos and the board. He started by sharing the approach Amazon takes when considering a new business opportunity, which was of keen interest to our audience of founders and business leaders.

They ask four questions:

If the answers to all four questions are positive, then, Andy explained, Amazon would pursue the opportunity even if it is very different from what they are doing today. Amazon likes to invent, to pioneer, and to make bold bets. We've seen this penchant for innovation over and over at Amazon.Since it is a question I have been fielding a lot these days, I was quite interested in Andy's take on current valuations in the technology space, particularly recent speculation regarding the value of Amazon Web Services. He said, "Valuations are temporal, you really build a lasting meaningful company over time and you have to be successful over a long period of time. It's a marathon." I couldn't agree more.

Thanks to all the incredible business leaders and innovation companies I get to meet around the world, I continue to be inspired by their vision to improve business, health, communication and especially as they are disrupting industries that are overdue for a new way of thinking. I'd personally like to thank Andy Jassy and all of our Seattle clients who participated in this event for the interesting conversation and inspirational ideas.

About the Author

Greg has been a champion of the innovation economy since he joined SVB in 1993 as a banker to fast-growing technology companies. Today, he is the president and CEO of the world’s only financial institution dedicated to the innovation sector around the globe. Greg has led the expansion of the company, now the nation’s 14th largest bank, to include four primary businesses serving the innovation sector: commercial banking, fund management, private banking and wealth management, and investment banking. 
 
Under Greg’s leadership, SVB has continued to outpace the growth rate of other banks and financial services providers. SVB joined the S&P 500 in 2018 and has been named one of the best banks in America, one of the fastest growing public companies in the US, and one of the best places to work. SVB has been included in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for the last four years and is consistently among the Top Corporate Philanthropists in its headquarters’ region. Working with employees, clients, and partners, Greg has also prioritized investments and initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion at SVB and across the larger innovation ecosystem, foster economic development and support community well-being. 
 
Prior to taking on the SVB President and CEO role in 2011, Greg held a variety of leadership positions, including co-founding SVB Capital, which manages some of the world’s top-rated venture fund-of-funds and direct investment funds.  
 
Greg is a Class A Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, the Chairman of TechNet, and a member of the executive council of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), where he was the Chairman from 2014-2017. He serves on the One Mind at Work Guiding Council and was a member of the US Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors from 2016-2017. Greg earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University.