Amazon’s advertising boss now reports directly to Jeff Bezos, a change that shows how serious of a threat it is to Google and Facebook’s core business (AMZN)

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  • Paul Kotas, the senior vice president of Amazon Advertising, now reports directly to CEO Jeff Bezos, Business Insider has learned.
  • The change comes amid the one-year leave of Senior Vice President Jeff Blackburn, who ran a vast portfolio of businesses, including advertising and video streaming. 
  • Mike Hopkins, the newly hired senior vice president of Amazon Studios and Prime Video, and Paul Krawiec, who runs the corporate-development team, were also added to Bezos’ inner circle last month.
  • The promotion is the latest sign of Amazon putting more emphasis on its advertising business.
  • Here’s a list of the 12 executives who report directly to Bezos.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The head of Amazon’s advertising unit, Paul Kotas, is now one of the 12 direct reports under CEO Jeff Bezos, which signifies the growing importance of the ad business within the company.

Kotas, the senior vice president of Amazon Advertising, was promoted last month amid the one-year leave of Senior Vice President Jeff Blackburn, who previously managed a vast group of teams, including the advertising unit, Business Insider has learned. Mike Hopkins, the former chairman of Sony Pictures, was also added to Bezos’s team, Variety previously reported, as was Peter Krawiec, who runs Amazon’s corporate-development team.

This is the first major expansion in Bezos’ direct reports in at least three years. Amazon’s representative declined to comment.

Kotas’ promotion follows the meteoric rise of Amazon’s advertising business in recent years. As more sellers and brands bought ads on Amazon’s marketplace to promote their products, Amazon saw its ad sales balloon to $14 billion last year, up about 40%. eMarketer predicted that Amazon would account for 10% of US digital-ad spending by 2021, behind only Google and Facebook, which control a combined 60% of the market.

It’s unclear if the organizational change is permanent, as Blackburn is expected to return next year. But it’s a different arrangement from past cases. For example, when Diego Piacentini, Amazon’s former senior vice president of international business who previously reported to Bezos, took a leave in 2016, his successor Russ Grandinetti didn’t get promoted to the CEO’s inner circle, despite taking over most of Piacentini’s responsibilities. 

Other people who previously reported to Blackburn, like the executives running Amazon Music and the IMDb unit, are now under Kotas, which shows Bezos’ interest in staying directly engaged with the advertising business.

There are other signs of Amazon putting more emphasis on its advertising business. Colleen Aubrey, Amazon’s vice president of performance advertising, recently joined Bezos’ “S-team,” a broader group of more than 20 of Amazon’s most senior executives who advise the CEO on major business decisions. The advertising team also hosted its first conference, AdCon 2019, last year.

Kotas first joined Amazon in 1999, which makes him one of the company’s longest-tenured executives. He was one of the first employees to leave D.E. Shaw — Bezos’ former employer — to join Amazon, but he had pushed back his move a couple of years, costing him a fortune in stock compensation, according to Brad Stone’s book “The Everything Store.”

Here’s a closer look at the 12 most powerful people at Amazon who report directly to Bezos:

Jeff Wilke, CEO of worldwide consumer

Wilke is one of the three CEOs at Amazon, alongside Bezos and Andy Jassy, who runs the Amazon Web Services cloud division. Wilke, who first joined Amazon in 1999, is in charge of everything on the retail side, including the marketplace, Prime memberships, and Whole Foods. 

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon Web Services

Jassy, who started at Amazon in 1997, is the face of the AWS cloud division. As CEO of AWS, Jassy runs all aspects of the $35 billion business and is considered one of Bezos’ most trusted lieutenants.

Jeff Blackburn, senior vice president, business and corporate development

Blackburn was in charge of the newer parts of Amazon, such as Prime Video and its advertising business, until last year. He also oversaw the company’s mergers-and-acquisitions and investment arms. Blackburn, who joined Amazon in 1998, is considered one of Bezos’ closest advisers. He’s on a one-year sabbatical.

Dave Limp, senior vice president, Amazon devices, digital management

Limp is Amazon’s hardware boss. He runs the secretive Lab126 team and other parts of Amazon’s hardware business, such as the Alexa voice assistant. He joined Amazon in 2010.

Jay Carney, senior vice president, global corporate affairs

Carney runs all press and policy teams at Amazon. His role has grown in importance lately, as Amazon has faced a more hostile regulatory environment. Carney previously served as the White House press secretary for former President Barack Obama.

Brian Olsavsky, senior vice president and chief financial officer

Olsavsky is in charge of Amazon’s finances. He’s best known for taking the company’s earnings call every quarter. After joining Amazon in 2002, he was promoted to chief financial officer in 2015.

David Zapolsky, senior vice president and general counsel, legal

Zapolsky is Amazon’s top lawyer. He oversees Amazon’s legal and compliance issues. He became the general counsel in 2014, nearly 15 years after joining Amazon.

Beth Galetti, senior vice president, human resources

Galetti is in charge of Amazon’s human-resources division. Her responsibilities include hiring and employee benefits, as well as performance reviews. She was named the HR chief in 2016, just three years after joining Amazon.

John Connors, executive assistant

Connors has been Bezos’ executive assistant for the past two decades. That loyalty has earned Bezos’ respect. The CEO thanked Connors in an Instagram post last year for his continued service. “You’re a big reason I’m able to be so busy and not go nuts — in fact, you somehow even make it calm!” Bezos wrote.

Paul Kotas, senior vice president of Amazon Advertising

Kotas joined Amazon in 1999 after a brief stint at D.E. Shaw, Bezos’ former employer. He’s in charge of Amazon’s advertising business, which has been one of the fastest growing and most profitable parts of the company in recent years.

Mike Hopkins, senior vice president of Amazon Video and Studios

Hopkins, the former chairman of Sony Pictures, joined Amazon last month as the new leader of Amazon’s video-streaming and content business. Previously, he was also the CEO of Hulu and the president of distribution for Fox Networks Group.

Peter Krawiec, vice president of worldwide corporate development

Krawiec leads Amazon’s corporate-development group, overseeing the company’s acquisitions, investments, and partnerships. He joined Amazon in 2004. His role has become more important as Amazon has become a more active buyer and investor in recent years.

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