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Former Amazon consumer chief Dave Clark lands at Flexport as CEO

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Dave Clark, incoming Flexport Chief Executive Officer. (Flexport Photo)

Longtime Amazon executive Dave Clark, who announced plans to leave the tech giant last week in an abrupt departure, has taken the CEO role at San Francisco-based logistics company Flexport.

Clark will start Sept. 1 and also join the Flexport board. He’ll replace Flexport founder and current CEO Ryan Petersen, who will become co-CEO for six months and then transition to executive chairman.

“Over the last two decades, Dave helped scale Amazon into the technology and supply chain juggernaut it is today,” Petersen said in a statement. “He is a builder and an entrepreneur at heart, with the leadership experience that will shepherd Flexport into the most exciting phase of our journey.”

Clark’s surprising departure from Amazon came after 23 years at the tech giant, where he was most recently its Worldwide Consumer CEO. He previously led Amazon worldwide operations.

His tenure was characterized by unprecedented challenges for the company, including the fallout from the pandemic, and a push by Amazon warehouse workers to unionize.

“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with an incredible team who are building a customer-first, rocket ship of a company focused on architecting and building solutions for the most complicated supply chain problems through world class technology for the physical world,” Clark wrote in a LinkedIn post.

Clark, 49, will take over one of the leading privately held global supply chain companies in Flexport, which was valued at $8 billion after raising a $935 million Series E round in February. Founded in 2013, Flexport provides cloud-based freight forwarding and brokerage services for ocean, air, truck, and rail, among other offerings such as insurance and customs compliance.

The company’s revenue hit $3.3 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to close to $5 billion this year. It is profitable. Flexport investors include Andreessen Horowitz, SoftBank, Shopify, and others.

Flexport employs nearly 3,500 people across 23 offices worldwide. It opened a Seattle office in 2019.

Flexport and Amazon are not direct competitors, though Amazon has been building out its logistics arm and its recent announcement of a “Buy with Prime” program, serving e-commerce sites other than Amazon.com, takes the company further down the path of using its fulfillment and delivery network to offer shipping as a service.

Clark’s departure was the latest in a series of exits among Amazon’s executive leadership. Clark became Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer CEO in early 2021, succeeding Jeff Wilke, who retired. The Seattle tech giant has not named a successor for Clark.

Forbes reported Wednesday that Clark had “outgrown my joy a little bit” and started thinking about going to a smaller organization as a CEO over the past year. He told Forbes that he was open with Amazon leadership about his thinking and presented a long-term plan to the company’s board last week that was “well received.”

Whoever replaces him will face no shortage of challenges. The new Amazon Consumer CEO will be charged with restoring Amazon’s core consumer business to profitability while grappling with a financial and operational hangover from the pandemic, and facing a growing union movement amid heightened scrutiny of Amazon’s treatment of workers.

“The past few years have been among the most challenging and unpredictable we’ve faced in the history of Amazon’s Consumer business, and I’m particularly appreciative of Dave’s leadership during that time,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who took over for Jeff Bezos last year, wrote in a memo to employees last week. “As we shared last week during our annual shareholder meeting, we still have more work in front of us to get to where we ultimately want to be in our Consumer business.”

Clark was reported last year to have sold his home in the Seattle area and moved to the Dallas area. Flexport confirmed Wednesday that Clark lives in Dallas and he will be based there. His last day at Amazon is July 1.

“The logistics market is a multi-trillion dollar opportunity, and Flexport is just getting started advancing the global supply chain for the benefit of all,” Clark said in a press release. “I am excited to partner with the team to architect and build a technology-powered future enabling the transparent and seamless movement of goods from raw material to end consumers anywhere in the world.”

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