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AWS’s new CEO started as an intern: Faces slowing growth, AI battle

Spitting feathers about an obsession with stochastic parrots? Matt Garman's view is likely to be customer-shaped.

Not AWS's new CEO, but an AWS data center...

AWS has appointed a new CEO, Adam Garman, who first joined the $100 billion revenue cloud business as an MBA intern in 2005, before becoming its first product manager for EC2. Garman replaces CEO Adam Selipsky, who is moving on in what was touted as a long-expected move.

Thanking Selipsky and Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, Garman said that “there will naturally be some organizational adjustments that we will make as part of this transition, so look for details on those in the coming weeks.”

His appointment was welcomed by channel partners. Garman was appointed as SVP AWS sales, marketing and global services in 2020 and is widely regarded as having a good finger on the pulse of customer needs.

Selipsky said he will “take the opportunity to spend more time with family for a while, recharge a bit, and create some mental free space…”

Principle analyst Tracy Woo at Forrester suggested that “Selipsky’s departure is unsurprising. AWS has seen slower growth under his tenure. The generative AI movement caught AWS flat footed, placing them at third in AI among the hyperscalers—unfamiliar territory for AWS.”

The research house’s Lee Sustar added that “the Microsoft/OpenAI combination has given Azure the initiative on bringing to market AI services as well as AI-infused versions of existing services… Google Cloud’s steady advance in the enterprise market — in part due its data, analytics and AI capabilities — adds to the competitive pressure.”

Selipsky’s tenure as CEO saw AWS grow to a $100 billion revenue run-rate despite macroeconomic headwinds that saw customers rein in spending, but critics feel the company has lost its way in recent years and become less customer-centric.

Close AWS watcher and cloud economist Corey Quinn wrote: “AWS is in dire need of a shakeup – from moving past the GenAI hype and the problematic practice of launching confusing, costly secondary services rather than improving the originals, to addressing the internal power struggles reminiscent of ‘The Battle of Conway’s Law’  playing out across their product catalog. Installing a CEO who has been with the company since his internship might just be the fresh start AWS needs.”

(Any major tech provider “moving past” “GenAI hype” seems unlikely anytime soon even if some observers are spitting feathers about an obsession with stochastic parrots, but stranger things have happened.)

In one small sign that AWS does still retain elements of that fast-moving, customer-centric edge that long differentiated it, the cloud provider’s Jeff Barr this week said that AWS had started deploying changes to Amazon S3 to make “unauthorized requests with certain error codes which were not initiated by you to be free of charge” – a move that comes just two weeks after customers identified that S3 charges for unauthorised requests even if you did not initiate them. (Although AWS lets you toggle “requester pays” on, under a wide range of circumstances the bucket owner is still charged for requests – including if request authentication fails, the request is anonymous, or the request is a SOAP request. AWS has moved swiftly to push a fix from May 13, it said

See also: AWS adds Kubernetes spending breakdown capabilities