Andy Jassy runs the world’s largest cloud computing business. He also just joined an NHL franchise ownership group trying to bring professional hockey to Seattle.
So the new team operations and arena infrastructure will use Amazon Web Services technology, right?
“I don’t think anyone has gone that far,” Jassy said.
It’s too early to tell how Amazon will be involved in the potential NHL team playing at a proposed redeveloped KeyArena, just blocks away from the company’s headquarters in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. But Jassy is already jazzed to be apart of it all.
GeekWire caught up with Jassy, CEO of AWS, moments after his involvement with Seattle Hockey Partners was announced at a press conference Wednesday on the 10th floor of Seattle’s Space Needle.
Jassy is the newest member of an ownership group that already includes business magnates such as David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer who are aiming to secure an expansion NHL team for the 2020-21 season. Seattle Sounders owner Adrian Hanauer and five others also joined the group today.
Jassy arrived at Amazon in 1997 and helped launch Amazon Web Services in 2003. He became CEO in 2016. AWS, Amazon’s market-leading cloud computing arm, has generated huge revenues — $6.1 billion last quarter — and helped the Seattle tech giant turn a profit in recent years. Jassy was Amazon’s highest-paid employee in 2016.
Jassy’s love for hockey started as a 3-year-old, when his father would take him to New York Rangers hockey games. When the opportunity to join Seattle Hockey Partners came up, he gladly came aboard.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to be part of a group owning a sports team,” he said. “It really is thrilling and exciting for me.”
Jassy’s love for sports is also evident in the basement of his Seattle-area home. During his early days at Amazon, Jassy would meet up with friends on Sundays to watch football games at Sluggers. But he wanted a way to both watch football and hang out with his family on the weekends, so naturally, he built a sports bar.
“It’s called ‘HelmetHead,'” Jassy said, explaining the reference from a sports book called Personal Fouls. “We try to watch as many of the big sporting events as we can there.”
If pro hockey comes to Seattle, though, you can expect the Amazon exec to be at the arena. Having potential NHL games just down the street from Amazon’s sprawling urban campus will certainly be a nice way for Jassy to treat AWS customers. But his wife and two kids already claimed first dibs on tickets.
“I expect to go to games as a fan with my family,” said Jassy, who is also a big New York Mets and New York Giants fan.
Speaking at the press event, Tod Leiweke, president of Seattle Hockey Partners, called Jassy a “true pioneer” and “truly one of the most gifted business leaders in this entire community.” He said the group will look to Jassy for help on technology and to “build a winning culture and team.”
Jassy told GeekWire that his involvement as a part-owner is personal and separate from his day job.
“As part of the ownership team, we are hopeful that a lot of companies in Seattle and Washington will be interested in being apart of building the hockey community here,” Jassy said, adding that he hopes Amazon will be included in that.
The arena renovation project leaders have previously talked with Amazon. Last year, Oak View Group CEO Tim Leiweke told GeekWire that he met with Amazon about potentially integrating something similar to the checkout-less Amazon Go concept at the renovated arena.
The arena could benefit Amazon’s interest in live sports and music as a potential test-bed of sorts for new services and products. Amazon recruiters will also almost certainly use the proximity as a way to woo job candidates; perhaps the arena will host massive parties for the company’s 45,000 employees.
Oak View Group, which is leading the privately-financed $700 million arena development project, ran a season ticket drive in May that racked up 33,000 deposits.
Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced Wednesday that she transmitted three agreements — a Development Agreement for the new Arena, a long-term Lease Agreement, and an Integration Agreement — for consideration by the Seattle City Council.
The ownership group will make a presentation to the Executive Committee of the Board of Governors for the NHL on Oct. 2. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has expressed optimism that an expansion team will play in Seattle by the 2020-21 season.