Jeff Bezos is bringing in a familiar face to run the education arm of his new $2 billion philanthropic initiative.
Mike George, the ex-Amazon vice president who oversaw some of the company’s most successful products, will lead the Day 1 Academies Fund, Bezos announced in a tweet on Tuesday.
George retired from Amazon in July 2017 after nearly 20 years at the tech giant, where he held multiple leadership positions spanning hardware to HR. He was most recently vice president of Echo, Alexa, and the Appstore. Now George is reuniting with his old boss, who unveiled the “Bezos Day One Fund” in September.
I have outstanding news to ring in 2019. Former Alexa VP & long-time Amazonian Mike George has agreed to lead the Day 1 Academies Fund. Mike is a true builder who knows how to start from scratch, and he’ll bring tremendous energy, grit, and passion to the job. Thank you, Mike! pic.twitter.com/K01N1NZ8ag
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) January 2, 2019
Bezos previously said the Day 1 Academies Fund “will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities.” The other arm is focused on funding nonprofits that help homeless families. Here’s an excerpt from the announcement:
The Day 1 Academies Fund will launch and operate a network of high-quality, full-scholarship, Montessori-inspired preschools in underserved communities. We will build an organization to directly operate these preschools. I’m excited about that because it will give us the opportunity to learn, invent, and improve. We’ll use the same set of principles that have driven Amazon. Most important among those will be genuine, intense customer obsession. The child will be the customer. “Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lightning of a fire.” And lighting that fire early is a giant leg up for any child.
George joined Amazon in 1998, serving in a variety of roles ranging from General Manager of Seller Platform Integration to vice president of Global Payments Services, and later Vice President of Apps, Games and Cloud Drive, among many other roles. He led Alexa and Echo starting in January 2016.
Under his leadership, Amazon’s Alexa voice-enabled assistant and Echo speakers have been runaway hits. The company is battling other tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Apple in the competitive voice assistant market.