When We Talks

Longtime Amazon execs retire; Madrona Venture Labs partner departs – GeekWire


Tom Taylor, senior vice president for Amazon Alexa, speaks at the Alexa Accelerator Demo Day in 2018. (GeekWire File Photo)

Amazon has lost two longtime executives to retirement: Tom Taylor, senior vice president of Amazon Alexa, and Gregg Zehr, president of Lab126, the company’s hardware engineering group best known for creating its Kindle e-readers, Fire tablets and Echo smart speakers.

Insider first reported the news, and an Amazon spokesperson confirmed the departures. They are part of a larger series of recent exits among Amazon’s senior leaders.

“Tom was here for over 22 years and Gregg was here for nearly 18—and we hope both are enjoying their retirement,” an Amazon spokesperson said in a statement. “We have strong succession plans for all businesses, and both these positions were backfilled with strong internal leaders some time ago.”

Taylor, who was part of Amazon’s senior leadership team (S-team), started his career as senior vice president of seller services, Amazon Payments and Fulfillment by Amazon. Prior to that, Taylor was director of operations at K2 sports and was an engineer at Delphi Automotive Systems.

Zehr is known as a creator of the Kindle, Amazon’s e-reader that was recently upgraded to a version that allows note-taking and annotation. He joined Amazon and founded Lab126 in 2004, three years before the debut of the Kindle.

In a video on the Amazon website, Zehr said he loved his job. “My passion is around inventing things that haven’t been invented before, doing things that hadn’t been done before,” he said. Zehr previously held senior engineering roles at Palm Computing, VA Linux and Apple. He was also in charge of developing the Astro home robot.

Other key personnel changes across the Pacific Northwest tech industry:

  • Maria Hess, previously partner and head of growth at Madrona Venture Labs, is now head of startup programs at Amazon Web Services. She was a senior product manager at Amazon from 1999 to 2003.
  • Bookis Worthy is now chief technology officer of Portland-based resale platform Sella. Worthy is based in Seattle.


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