Selipsky was no stranger to AWS. He first joined the Amazon cloud computing division in 2005, before its services were even publicly available. But in 2016, after 11 years with the company, he left. In the five years he was away running data visualization firm Tableau, the business and the industry changed considerably, bringing Selipsky a new set of challenges.
But in one of his first interviews since taking over as AWS CEO, Selipsky sounded confident about his company’s prospects. The new AWS chief said he believes his company still has an edge over Microsoft in clinching government work.
He added: “I think you’ll find, particularly given our leadership position, that our competitors spend a lot more time talking and worrying about AWS than we do about them — we choose to focus on our customers.”
(While such contracts are good for business, some employees have previously taken issue with the company’s work for certain government agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement — a dynamic that may only add to Selipsky’s challenges in the role.)
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“In any fast growing, interesting market segment, there’s going to be competition,” he said. “We’ve always thought there would be not a lot of winners, but a small handful of winners that emerge and have vigorous competition, and that’s what we see. But we still are the significant leader.”
We ‘really encourage’ employees speaking up
“I really like the fact that people are bringing their whole selves to work and that they’re speaking out — we really encourage that,” he said. “I’ve found that if you have a really good process and really genuinely listen and show people that you’re taking the time to listen, even when they disagree with you at the end of the day, we all can lock arms and move forward together.”
He continued: “I really welcome the fact that a lot of topics are being discussed today that maybe were discussed less in the workplace five, 10, 20 years ago.”
“Amazon intends to be 100% renewable energy by the year 2025 … and we’re already about two-thirds of the way there, so we’re making significant progress,” he said. “Just given our size and our scale and the things like the data centers we operate, we really have to drive them with renewable energy in order to hit that  goal. We’re doing a lot of innovating ourselves, we’re doing a lot of partnering with a lot of companies, a lot of governments, a lot of nonprofits to reach those goals.”
Selipsky will have his first chance to address customers at AWS’s annual cloud conference, Re:Invent, in Las Vegas later this month. He said customers should expect announcements in some of “our oldest and most basic services, things like compute and databases and storage,” as well as “exciting announcements about higher level services and industry specific solutions.”
“It’s absolutely imperative that we continue to understand [customers’] evolving needs, which are changing very quickly, and we’re going to evolve right along with them,” he said.