Amazon exec Jeff Blackburn’s leave creates risk for Prime Video

Senior Vice President of Business Development at Amazon Jeff Blackburn (R) and Anne Blackburn attend the The IMDb Dinner Party on the Sundance Film Festival introduced by Dolby on January 28, 2019 in Park City, Utah.

Rich Polk | Getty Images

In March, 4 months earlier than Amazon’s Jeff Blackburn introduced that he was taking a year-long sabbatical from the corporate, the chief was requested to deal with a key enterprise query throughout an all-hands workers assembly.

Blackburn, a senior vice chairman and member of CEO Jeff Bezos’s unique S-Team, oversees Amazon’s video-streaming service, which is shelling out billions of {dollars} to outbid Netflix and others for unique content material. An worker requested Blackburn if high executives nonetheless believed these investments make sense.

“Is the executive team — the S-team — behind it?” Blackburn rhetorically requested in response. “Absolutely. There was a breakthrough year in 2018 in terms of just Prime member engagement with our Prime originals.”

At the assembly, a recording of which was obtained by CNBC, Blackburn went on to reward the video staff’s work, together with the writers of the upcoming “Lord of the Rings” sequence that reportedly value Amazon $250 million for unique rights. He additionally defined how a lot he cherished speaking about Amazon’s Prime Video service, saying he may “do it for a long time.”

That was then. In an electronic mail announcement to workers on Wednesday, Blackburn mentioned he was taking a 12 months off, citing burnout after over 20 years of nonstop work, together with the final seven because the prime architect of its video-streaming effort. Critically, Blackburn will not be part of the video staff’s plan for 2020, a 12 months that guarantees to the be essentially the most aggressive but for the business with Disney, Apple, and Comcast’s NBCUniversal all slated to launch new video-streaming apps. HBO and Netflix, in the meantime, are getting much more aggressive.

“Blackburn’s sabbatical could not come at a worse time for Bezos & Co.,” mentioned Dan Ives, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, in an electronic mail to CNBC. “They lose a key cog in the wheel during his absence.”

Growing competitors

Blackburn, who first joined Amazon in 1998, is likely one of the most influential leaders on the firm and is commonly talked about as a high candidate to succeed the CEO if and when Bezos ever steps down. Blackburn oversees all the things from acquisitions to promoting and video content material. He’s racked up Amazon inventory value $130 million.

In unique applications, a few of Amazon’s greatest hits on Blackburn’s watch had been “Manchester by the Sea,” winner of the 2017 Academy Award for greatest unique screenplay, and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, ” which received the 2018 Emmy Award for greatest comedy sequence. Blackburn was additionally key in pushing Amazon into sports activities offers, gaining the streaming rights to the NFL’s Thursday Night Football.

In his electronic mail to workers, Blackburn mentioned he feels prefer it’s the “right time for me and my family” to take a year-long break, including that the prevailing management staff will “proceed to…

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