Top Amazon Exec Jeff Blackburn to Take One-Year Break

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Jeff Blackburn

The head of Amazon’s entertainment, business development and advertising businesses is going on a sabbatical with his wife and extended family.

Jeff Blackburn, head of Amazon’s entertainment, business development and advertising businesses and a top advisor to Jeff Bezos, is taking a year off from work.

"Jeff Blackburn has decided to take a one-year sabbatical with his wife and extended family following more than 21 years at Amazon, leading everything from our third-party business to Prime Video, Amazon Studios, Amazon Music and Amazon Advertising," an Amazon spokesman on Wednesday told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement.

The one-year break will begin in early 2020, with Blackburn set to return in 2021.

In an internal email obtained by THR, the senior vp at Amazon, who is a member of Bezos' S-team, or inner circle, shared the news of his coming sabbatical with company employees. "I’ve been pretty nonstop at Amazon for 21+ years now — from the time we were only selling books. Physical books!" wrote Blackburn, who joined the retail giant in 1998.

Bezos launched Amazon.com from his garage in 1995 and has since built a retail empire that includes a massive investment in entertainment content and distribution via Amazon Studios and Amazon Prime.

Blackburn has been a key intermediary between Amazon's head office, Amazon Studios and head Jennifer Salke as Amazon Prime competes in an increasingly competitive streaming space with Netflix and new Hollywood studio entrants.

A copy of the internal email follows:

Hi, wanted to share with you all that I’m planning to take a year-long sabbatical — to spend more time with my wife and family — starting in early 2020. I’ve been pretty nonstop at Amazon for 21+ years now — from the time we were only selling books. Physical books! I’ve had roles growing our third party selling Marketplace, Retail Hardlines, Operations, Corporate Development, Business Development and Advertising teams and spent the last 7 years helping build Amazon Prime Video, Amazon Studios and Amazon Music — an incredible experience.

It’s never easy to find a good time for a break when always scaling so fast, but now feels like the right time for me and my family. In Biz Dev, Advertising and Entertainment, we have such a strong leadership team in place — and tremendous momentum right now. I’m confident this team will continue to deliver amazing content, products, and experiences for customers. I’ve been working closely with JeffB and S-team on this transition and I won’t be going on leave until early next year.

So it’s absolutely business as usual for now. I’m looking forward to working with you as we review OP1 plans this fall, and will share with you any organizational changes as we know them. Thanks to my leadership team for their incredible support — and to all of you across our businesses helping to deliver for customers every day. This is an “A+” team of people and am very proud to be part of it.

Jeff