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 Silicon Valley Bank in 1993 as a banker to fast-growing technology companies. Today, he is the CEO of the world’s only bank dedicated to the innovation sector around the world.

Silicon Valley Bank’s mission is to help increase the probability of its innovative clients’ success globally. Under Greg’s leadership, Silicon Valley Bank’s growth rate has continued to outpace other banks. SVB has been named one of the best banks in America, one of the fastest growing public companies in the U.S., and one of the best places to work. SVB is also an advocate for entrepreneurs, their investors and corporates in the innovation sector internationally. In 2018, SVB joined the S&P 500 and became a member of the Bloomberg Gender Equality Index. Greg has been recognized as a top influencer in global finance by Worth Magazine and was named the #1 bank CEO for midcap banks by Institutional Investor Magazine.  

Greg was the president, chief operations officer and chief banking officer prior to taking on the CEO role. Earlier in his career, Greg ran the company’s venture capital group where he was responsible for building relationships with, and investing in, venture capital and private equity firms across the U.S. Greg was also a co-founder and managing director of SVB Capital, which manages some of the world’s top-rated venture fund-of-funds and co-investment funds, and he was a member of Silicon Valley Bank’s Operating Committee.

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. Greg was also a member of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors from 2016-2017.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Indiana University.