Jeff Bezos just named his newest 'shadow,' a technical adviser who will follow the billionaire CEO to every one of his meetings

GettyJeff Bezos.
  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has named Wei Gao as his new technical adviser, according to a CNBC report.
  • It’s a coveted position also known as the CEO’s “shadow.” A shadow, like the name implies, follows Bezos around, attending all of his meetings and travelling with the CEO.
  • Bezos borrowed the idea for the position from management guru and famed Intel CEO Andy Grove.
  • One of Bezos’ first shadows said of the position: “I was a receptacle for him for any of the 19 ongoing activities in his brain that didn’t have a place in the normal organisation.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has named Wei Gao as his new technical adviser, according to a CNBC report.

It’s a coveted position also known as the CEO’s “shadow.” Like the name implies, a shadow follows Bezos around, attending all of his meetings and travelling with the CEO. It’s a position usually held for a year or two, and it provides extensive insight into all aspects of Amazon’s business.


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Gao, a 13-year Amazon veteran who most recently served as a vice president of forecasting, is now only the second woman ever to hold the position of Bezos’ shadow. In April 2015, Maria Renz became the first, according to CNBC.

“My formal job description is to help Jeff be the best CEO that he can be,” Renz told the Seattle Times a year into her tenure as Bezos’ shadow. She is now vice president of delivery experience.

Origins of the role

A 2013 Bloomberg report chronicled the origins of the shadow role at Amazon.

According to the report, Bezos borrowed the idea for the position from management guru and famed Intel CEO Andy Grove. Intel, like Amazon does now, used the role for rising executives to gain experience and exposure in the business.

Bezos instituted the shadow role at Amazon in the late ’90s and initially filled the position with an executive whose company had been acquired by Amazon, but was struggling to find his or her niche internally.

Stig Leschly – whose company, Exchange.com, was bought by Amazon in 1999 – served as one of Bezos’ first shadows.

“He would walk around and go into meetings, and I would get to follow. I had nothing to do. I would just sit there and observe,” Leschly told Bloomberg. “But then he’d have an idea, and he would give it to me to figure out.”

“I was a receptacle for him for any of the 19 ongoing activities in his brain that didn’t have a place in the normal organisation,” Leschly said. “It was honest to god one of the most extraordinary things a young person can do.”

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