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

A recognized leader in the innovation economy, Greg Becker heads the only bank dedicated to the global innovation sector.

Greg believes the innovation economy brings together talented people who are passionate about turning great ideas into sustainable businesses to create jobs, grow the economy, and enable more people to unlock opportunity.

Under his leadership for a decade, Silicon Valley Bank has consistently outpaced other banks’ growth rates – enabling SVB to expand the services it provides to thousands of fast-growing companies and their investors. In the US, SVB is among America’s Top 10 Best Banks (Forbes) and Most Responsible Companies (Newsweek) and annually ranks as a Top Corporate Philanthropist, member of the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index and among the best places to work.

Greg joined SVB in 1993, and has spent his career championing innovation, helping entrepreneurs and their investors scale across the US and globally, building SVB for the long-term and expanding to include nine countries. Working with employees, clients and partners, he has also prioritized investments and initiatives to increase diversity and inclusion at SVB and across the larger technology workforce, foster economic development and support community well-being.

Since 2011, Greg has served as president and CEO of SVB Financial Group and CEO of Silicon Valley Bank. Earlier, he held various senior leadership positions including co-founder and managing director of SVB Capital, chief banking officer and president of Silicon Valley Bank.

Greg holds key positions that enable him to contribute to policymaking and advocate for the innovation economy at the highest levels: In 2019, he was elected a Class A Director for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco and chairman of TechNet. He is a member of the Executive Council of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, which he chaired from 2014 to 2017. Greg also served as a member of the US Department of Commerce Digital Economy Board of Advisors from 2016 to 2017.

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