- Amazon Vice President of Prime Worldwide Greg Greeley is leaving the company after almost two decades to join Airbnb, according to a LinkedIn post he wrote Tuesday morning. Later in the day, the hire was formally announced by Airbnb CEO/co-founder Brian Chesky on the company's blog.
- Greeley, who will report directly to Chesky, is joining the home-sharing company as President of Homes, responsible for all aspects of the Homes business, including the newly launched Airbnb Plus, Airbnb Collections, its expanded Superhost program and a forthcoming Superguest program, according to the post.
- Amazon didn't immediately return Retail Dive's request for comment regarding plans for Greeley's replacement.
Greg Greeley was at Amazon when the company first introduced Prime membership in 2005 amid widespread skepticism from investors. After leaving in 2007 to work on Amazon's overseas expansion, he returned to Prime in 2013. More recently, he spearheaded integration with Whole Foods, which has not been entirely smooth. Prime and Whole Foods are woven together in several ways: Prime members now enjoy discounts, can buy Whole Foods 365 private label goods online, and in Atlanta and San Francisco can order same-day delivery from stores.
"It’s hard to believe it has been over 18 years since I joined Amazon," Greeley wrote. "It has been an amazing and inspirational experience, but the time has come for me take on a different challenge."
His departure is unlikely to slow Prime's momentum, according to Deborah Weinswig, founder and CEO of retail think tank Coresight Research. "We do not see Greeley's departure as a major blow, not least because Prime does not rely on constant innovation and newness, but is based more on the simple premise of convenience," she told Retail Dive in an email. "According to our latest survey (January), some 43% of US Internet users have a personal Prime membership and a further 21% have access to Prime benefits through someone else in their household; that leaves 'only' 36% without access to Prime."
The e-commerce giant early this year said that it had shipped more than 5 billion items through Prime in 2017, after noting that more than four million people started free trials or began paid memberships in just one week over the holidays. Never included on Amazon's exhaustive listicles on Prime, however, is its actual size. Consumer Intelligence Research Partners pegs it at 90 million in the U.S., although Moody's Investors Service analysts threw cold water on that number last summer, calling such estimates "seriously overstated," "highly improbable" and made "in the absence of any real guidance from the company itself."
Greeley will find in Airbnb a company at a much earlier stage of development. Amazon's Prime delivery has grown to the point where the company is poised become a shipper to rival FedEx and UPS, something that has been a point of contention among analysts. Shipping costs, however, are likely eating at margins and it's unclear whether Amazon can penetrate the delivery market, but it must try. A massive 82% of Prime members would cancel without free two-day shipping, according to a November report by SmarterHQ.
In his LinkedIn post, Greeley said that it was Bezos's now famous letter to shareholders in 1997 that first drew him into the company. "That letter described a unique approach for a public company, and the vision it contained was even more powerful than I fully understood at the time," he said. "With a relentless focus on customers and eight clearly defined long-term principles, it has been the foundation for a phenomenal business and I truly believe, even now, it is still Day 1."