Blackburn returns to Amazon to help new CEO understand Hollywood

A former high lieutenant to Jeff Bezos has made a fast about-face that’s elevating eyebrows — returning to Amazon after a five-week stint in Silicon Valley.

Jeffrey Blackburn, a 22-year firm veteran who helped construct the Seattle-based e-tailing large’s video-streaming service, was known as again by Bezos after briefly becoming a member of Bessmer Venture Partners, a distinguished venture-capital agency that has backed fast-growing tech corporations like Shopify, Twilio, Twitch and Docusign.

Blackburn was summoned to to run Amazon’s total leisure enterprise — which has mushroomed right into a juggernaut that features Prime Video, Amazon Studios, Music, podcasts and gaming web site Twitch — decide up the slack for incoming chief executive Andrew Jassy, a pointy-headed cloud-computing whiz who “doesn’t understand Hollywood,” in accordance to a supply shut to the corporate.

One Hollywood insider famous that when Bezos announced that Jassy would grab the reins as CEO from him later this 12 months, “everyone said he doesn’t really understand Hollywood and he doesn’t quite get entertainment and gaming … He doesn’t quite like entertainment.”

Amazon didn’t return requests looking for remark. Blackburn couldn’t be reached for remark.

Returning Amazon exec Jeff Blackburn (left) and IMDb Founder and CEO Col Needham
Returning Amazon exec Jeff Blackburn (left) and IMDb Founder and CEO Col Needham at a dinner January 2020. Insiders say Blackburn’s data of leisure norms is a plus for Amazon.
Getty Images for IMDb

The supply stated that whereas the leisure division will not be the e-commerce large’s core enterprise, it’s a prestigious, buzzy wing of Amazon that Bezos has cultivated. Case in level: This 12 months, Amazon Studios racked up 12 Oscar nominations, of which it won two Oscars for “Sound of Metal,” a narrative of a heavy metallic drummer performed by Riz Ahmed who loses his listening to.

All eyes are on the studio, which forked over $250 million for the TV rights to make a five-season manufacturing of “The Lord of the Rings.” Although Amazon hasn’t supplied a launch date but, the primary season of the sequence is on monitor to be the most costly season of TV ever with an eye-popping $465 million price range, in accordance to reviews.

With that type of stress, Bezos wished a trusted hand to steer the ship.

“I believe Bezos thought, ‘I really need some support in this area with someone who could speak the language,’” the source said, citing Bezos’ farewell remarks to Blackburn when he introduced his departure from Amazon in late February.

“When you talk, I find myself leaning in and listening carefully — always,” Bezos stated of Blackburn.

According to an internal memo from Jassy to employees on Thursday, Blackburn had proven curiosity in returning to Amazon, which introduced high brass with the chance to reorganize the enterprise. Jassy stated all leisure enterprise heads from models like Prime Video and Amazon Studios, Music, Podcasts/Wondery, Audible, Games, and Twitch, will report to Blackburn when he rejoins the corporate on June 7.

Jeff Blackburn and his wife, Anne (right), with actress Michelle Williams at a 2017 Amazon Oscars celebration
Jeff Blackburn and his spouse, Anne (proper), with actress Michelle Williams at a 2017 Amazon Oscars celebration.
Getty Images for Amazon

The exec’s new title will likely be senior vice chairman of Global Media & Entertainment. He will report to Bezos after which Jassy when the latter takes over as CEO within the third quarter.

“Jblack’s interest in returning to Amazon presented us with a good opportunity to combine our entertainment businesses in a single org under a leader who knows them well,” Jassy stated the memo. “Often, the best time to make org changes is when things are going well.”

The 51-year-old exec, who most just lately was Amazon’s senior vice chairman of enterprise and company improvement, took a year-long hiatus in 2020 solely to re-emerge in late February of this 12 months to announce his departure. Blackburn on the time cited the varied roles he held at Amazon from engaged on mergers & acquisitions and promoting to constructing Amazon Music, Prime Video and Amazon Studios.

“During my 22 years, I’d like to think I never stopped helping carry those heavier bags,” he stated in his farewell memo.

After “grinding” away for many years, Blackburn was wanting to depart for a while, a supply stated, and put in place his personal succession staff led by Mike Hopkins, senior vice chairman of Amazon Video and Studios.

Jeff Blackburn and Amazon Studios' worldwide head of motion pictures Jason Ropell at a 2017 Amazon Oscars celebration.
Jeff Blackburn and Amazon Studios’ worldwide head of movement photos Jason Ropell at a 2017 Amazon Oscars celebration.
Getty Images

So, when Blackburn’s subsequent transfer was to be a part of Silicon Valley’s Bessemer Venture Partners, some within the leisure world had been skeptical.

“I think when people arrive it’s harder than they thought,” the supply stated. “Building small companies is a pain in the ass. When you come from a giant company you don’t realize how tricky it is.”

Going into an organization the place you’re “not the big boss anymore,” and the place you may have to “share ideas,” was a get up name to the exec, the supply added.

Bessemer didn’t return requests for remark. Earlier this month, the agency told Geekwire that Blackburn had shifted to an advisory function 5 weeks after becoming a member of the agency.

“We fully support Jeff’s decision to transition to a new advisory role as a special limited partner of Bessemer Venture Partners,” a agency spokesperson stated. “We understand his desire to return to an operating role and wish him the best of luck.”

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