As Mr. Bezos increasingly stepped away from the day-to-day of running Amazon, Mr. Wilke took on a broad array of work. He flew to New York to meet with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo to discuss building a second headquarters in Queens. He has also grappled with counterfeit products on its marketplace, delays in its drone delivery plans and growing antitrust scrutiny.
Most recently, the coronavirus pandemic strained Amazon’s operations, as consumer orders soared and Amazon struggled with the safety of its warehouse workers. At one point, Mr. Bezos called the period “the hardest time we’ve ever faced.”
Mr. Wilke is known for an aggressive and at times argumentative approach in meetings. He has helped shape a generation of leaders at Amazon, some of whom have stayed with the company while others have gone on to be executives at other major businesses.
Amazon is based in Seattle, but Mr. Wilke has been living part time in Los Angeles for family reasons. He has made more than $200 million from Amazon, according to Equilar, which tracks executive compensation.
Mr. Bezos’ S-team, the senior leadership team that runs the company, has seen other departures in the past few years, largely of men who spent the better part of their careers building Amazon.
Last year, Jeff Blackburn, a senior vice president, went on a sabbatical and has not yet returned, and Steve Kessel, who ran Amazon’s physical stores, retired. They, along with Mr. Wilke, all started at Amazon in the late 1990s, a critical time in the company’s expansion.
Mr. Clark has been ascendant in recent years as Amazon has invested billions of dollars in expanding its operations, building hundreds of warehouses as well as its own network of trucks and last-mile delivery. He was widely seen as Mr. Wilke’s successor as he took on more responsibility, including the Prime membership business, marketing and the physical store business, including Whole Foods.