Amazon.com's President Leaves


Tuesday, July 25th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


SEATTLE (AP) — Joseph Galli, the former Black & Decker executive who brought marketing savvy and business discipline to Amazon.com Inc. as its president and chief operating officer, is leaving to run VerticalNet Inc.

Galli will become president and chief executive officer of the Horsham, Pa.-based company, which specializes in business-to-business transactions over the Internet. He will take over for former CEO Mark Walsh, who will become chairman of VerticalNet's board.

Amazon.com announced that its chairman and CEO Jeff Bezos will become president once again of the Seattle-based online retailer. He surrendered the post when Galli was hired 13 months ago.

In a joint interview, both Galli and Bezos said the parting was amicable, with Bezos even recommending Galli for the VerticalNet job.

``Joe is a very talented executive, and I couldn't be happier for him,'' Bezos said. ``He's a great friend, and this is the right thing for him to do.''

The new VerticalNet CEO said the fact that his children, ages 13 and 7, lived in the Philadelphia area played a big part in his decision to take the VerticalNet job.

``Amazon is a great company and this has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,'' Galli said. ``But it was more complex for me living in Seattle than I had thought. When this opportunity presented itself, it was just perfect.''

As VerticalNet's chief executive, Galli will be in charge of growing the 5-year-old company into a global electronic commerce site for businesses. Walsh will contribute to the company's overall strategy.

``This is a CEO position in an up-and-coming high-tech company,'' Galli said. ``Jeff spoiled me. I love the new economy, and this company has a lot going for it.''

Galli's departure is a loss for Amazon.com, which had sought to bring business discipline and fiscal responsibility to the company. But Bezos, who said he will not fill the chief operating officer's position, said he is ready to take back the day-to-day reins of his company.

``Joe really helped bring in a very, very good team,'' Bezos said. ``It's a perfect time for this transition, because we have very good people in place.''

Galli has also resigned his seat on Amazon.com's board of directors. Bezos said no decision has been made on filling that seat.

Galli's departure is a loss for Amazon.com, where he was credited for streamlining the company even as it grew, said JP Morgan analyst Tom Wyman.

However, Wyman added that with Amazon's chief financial officer, Warren Jensen, still on board, the company will recover quickly from the loss.

``I don't think Amazon skips a beat,'' Wyman said. ``In Jeff Bezos you have a very strong, very charismatic leader, and in Warren Jensen you have a strong financial policeman.''

Shares of VerticalNet were up $1.50 to $58.25 in afternoon trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, while Amazon.com fell 87.5 cents, to $36.875 on the Nasdaq.

Amazon.com is expected to issue its second-quarter earnings report on Wednesday. Wall Street analysts surveyed by First Call/Thomson Financial expect the company to post a loss of 35 cents per share, the same as the previous quarter.

Amazon.com began by selling books online but has broadened its product line to include videos, music, lawn furniture, hardware, toys electronics and cooking utensils. The company is not expected to be profitable until at least 2002.