When Jeff Blackburn announced his retirement from Amazon in February after 22 years, the longtime Jeff Bezos lieutenant stressed that he was not retiring and hinted at news to come on his next move. That caused a wave of speculation in the GeekWire newsroom about the big tech, media or sports companies he might lead next, so we were a bit surprised when he landed a gig at storied Silicon Valley venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners.
Now, according to reports in The Information and Newcomer, Blackburn is moving on from his day-to-day role at Bessemer after just five weeks to pursue a management role. He will remain an advisor to Bessemer, a backer of companies including Shopify, Twillio, Twitch, DocuSign and Auth0, which just sold to Okta for $6.5 billion in March.
At the time of his hiring, Bessemer told GeekWire that Blackburn had planned to remain in Seattle.
“We fully support Jeff’s decision to transition to a new advisory role as a special limited partner of Bessemer Venture Partners,” a firm spokesperson said in an email to GeekWire Friday morning. “We understand his desire to return to an operating role and wish him the best of luck.” Blackburn was not available for an interview.
So, now the speculation starts again: What’s next for Blackburn?
And another question: Will Blackburn’s new role be as welcomed by his former boss Jeff Bezos. When Blackburn retired, Bezos wrote that his former colleague “has kept me in the loop on his next chapter, and I can assure you it’s a very exciting one! I predict that Jeff will be every bit as amazing in his new role as he’s been in all his roles at Amazon. Easy prediction.”
It’s not uncommon for venture capital firms to hire high-profile operators, with the promise that they can see deal flow and evaluate current companies with the possibility they could slide into a CEO role. But that process often takes months or years, not weeks.
That suggests that another company came knocking once Blackburn officially left Amazon.
Blackburn, who attended Dartmouth and Stanford, touched a number of Amazon units during his more than two decade run at the company. He worked on Amazon Advertising, Prime Video, Amazon Music, and Amazon Studios, and just before retiring he served as senior vice president of worldwide business development where he oversaw investments and acquisitions.