New CEO-in-waiting Andy Jassy will be front-and-center in Washington when Amazon takes on lawmakers calling for breaking up the online giant.
Amazon’s political opponents are already itching for a fight with Mr. Jassy, who heads the company’s web services division that took Parler offline, infuriating conservatives who championed the social media platform as an free-speech alternative to more restrictive sites likes like Twitter and Facebook.
Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon who announced this week he was stepping down as CEO, said his replacement would take over later this year.
In an email to employees, Mr. Bezos said he was excited about the change in leadership at the company.
But Amazon’s critics sound more eager to get their licks in against Mr. Jassy.
“I have some questions for Mr. Jassy,” tweeted Rep. Ken Buck, a Colorado Republican who sits on a key antitrust panel, after news broke of Mr. Bezos’ replacement.
Conservatives also expect a more rocky relationship with Mr. Jassy than Mr. Bezos, who famously feuded with former President Donald Trump.
The Media Research Center mounted an anti-Amazon campaign this week ahead of Mr. Jassy’s announced promotion. The center’s vice president, Dan Gainor, said he fears what Mr. Jassy will do next.
“It worries us more,” said Mr. Gainor. “We already had the problem where they went after Parler in a very specific attack.”
Amazon Web Services took Parler offline in the aftermath of the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. At the time, Big Tech increasingly scrutinized Parler’s free-speech policies as a potential cause of future violence.
Apple and Google simultaneously removed Parler’s app from their app stores, too.
Mr. Gainor views Mr. Jassy as “the guy who went after Parler” and expects the company will continue what he describes as a hypocritical crackdown against conservatives.
The conservative Internet Accountability Project also views Mr. Jassy’s elevation as bad news for conservatives.
“Whether under Jeff Bezos or the more-charming Andy Jassy, trillion-dollar monopolist Amazon will continue its drive for global domination under the guise of delighting consumers,” said Mike Davis, IAP founder.
Even some of Amazon’s liberal critics agree with Mr. Davis.
The liberal anti-monopoly advocates at the American Economic Liberties Project called for breaking-up Amazon. The think tank’s research director, Matt Stoller, said the change in leadership will not lessen Amazon’s domineering approach to the marketplace.
“Our view is that Amazon is a creature of policy, and so we look to policy changes to address the concentration of power embedded in that corporation,” he said. “Our legal framework enables and encourages monopolization, which is why Amazon exists as it does.”
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment on such criticism.
Mr. Jassy’s promotion won praise inside Amazon, according to Blind, an anonymous message board catering to tech workers. An Amazon employee queried the message board about the power shift to Mr. Jassy and 51% of 1,598 Amazon employees on the platform responded that it was a good move, according to data shared by Blind.
The new Amazon leader also has allies across Washington. Mr. Jassy is a commissioner on the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence, which is responsible for guiding policymakers on artificial intelligence issues. The commissioners are selected by members of Congress and the secretaries of defense and commerce under legislation passed in 2018.