Jeff Bezos just named his newest 'shadow,' a technical adviser who will follow the billionaire CEO to every one of his meetings

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has named Wei Gao as his new technical adviser, according to a CNBC report.
  • It's a coveted position also known as the CEO's "shadow." A shadow, like the name implies, follows Bezos around, attending all of his meetings and traveling with the CEO.
  • Bezos borrowed the idea for the position from management guru and famed Intel CEO Andy Grove.
  • One of Bezos' first shadows said of the position: "I was a receptacle for him for any of the 19 ongoing activities in his brain that didn't have a place in the normal organization."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has named Wei Gao as his new technical adviser, according to a CNBC report.

It's a coveted position also known as the CEO's "shadow." Like the name implies, a shadow follows Bezos around, attending all of his meetings and traveling with the CEO. It's a position usually held for a year or two, and it provides extensive insight into all aspects of Amazon's business. 

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Jeff Bezos, Chairman and CEO of Amazon, speaks at the George W. Bush Presidential Center's Forum on Leadership in Dallas, Texas, U.S., April 20, 2018. Picture taken on April 20, 2018. REUTERS/Rex Curry
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos laughs as he talks to the media while touring the new Amazon Spheres during the grand opening at Amazon's Seattle headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos (L) answers a question from the media while getting a tour from Ron Gagliardo, senior manager of horticultural services for the Spheres, during the Amazon Spheres opening event at Amazon's Seattle headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
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Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos looks over a balcony on the top floor of the Amazon Spheres during an opening ceremony event at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos gives some closing comments after opening the new Amazon Spheres with some help from Alexa during an opening event at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle, Washington, U.S., January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos addresses the media about the New Shepard rocket booster and Crew Capsule mockup at the 33rd Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States April 5, 2017. REUTERS/Isaiah J. Downing
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon, speaks about the future plans of Blue Origin during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's SATELLITE 2017 conference in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon, speaks about the future plans of Blue Origin during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's SATELLITE 2017 conference in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Jeff Bezos, founder of Blue Origin and CEO of Amazon, arrives to speak about the future plans of Blue Origin during an address to attendees at Access Intelligence's SATELLITE 2017 conference in Washington, U.S., March 7, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
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Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, delivers remarks at the grand opening of the Washington Post newsroom in Washington January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
Jeff Bezos, owner of The Washington Post, delivers remarks at the grand opening of the Washington Post newsroom in Washington January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
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Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos (R) arrives at the annual Allen and Co. conference at the Sun Valley, Idaho Resort July 12, 2013. REUTERS/Rick Wilking (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS HEADSHOT)
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Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., tours the Spheres during opening day ceremonies at the company's campus in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. The Spheres, a new gathering and working space for Amazon employees located in the heart of the downtown Seattle Amazon campus, contains hundreds of plant species from cloud rainforest environments around the globe, and maintains a tropical climate similar to Costa Rica or Indonesia. Photographer: Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., center, tours the Spheres during opening day ceremonies at the company's campus in Seattle, Washington, U.S., on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. The Spheres, a new gathering and working space for Amazon employees located in the heart of the downtown Seattle Amazon campus, contains hundreds of plant species from cloud rainforest environments around the globe, and maintains a tropical climate similar to Costa Rica or Indonesia. Photographer: Mike Kane/Bloomberg via Getty Images
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NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 27: (L to R) Jeff Bezos, Chairman and founder of Amazon.com and owner of The Washington Post, addresses the Economic Club of New York as moderator Charlie Rose looks on, at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, October 27, 2016 in New York City. Bezos discussed the future of Amazon, space travel, and his ownership of The Washington Post. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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Gao, a 13-year Amazon veteran who most recently served as a vice president of forecasting, is now only the second woman ever to hold the position of Bezos' shadow. In April 2015, Maria Renz became the first, according to CNBC.

"My formal job description is to help Jeff be the best CEO that he can be,” Renz told the Seattle Times a year into her tenure as Bezos' shadow. She is now vice president of delivery experience. 

Origins of the role

A 2013 Bloomberg report chronicled the origins of the shadow role at Amazon. 

According to the report, Bezos borrowed the idea for the position from management guru and famed Intel CEO Andy Grove. Intel, like Amazon does now, used the role for rising executives to gain experience and exposure in the business. 

Bezos instituted the shadow role at Amazon in the late 90s and initially filled the position with an executive whose company had been acquired by Amazon, but was struggling to find his or her niche internally. 

Stig Leschly — whose company, Exchange.com, was bought by Amazon in 1999 — served as one of Bezos' first shadows. 

"He would walk around and go into meetings, and I would get to follow. I had nothing to do. I would just sit there and observe," Leschly told Bloomberg. "But then he'd have an idea, and he would give it to me to figure out."

"I was a receptacle for him for any of the 19 ongoing activities in his brain that didn't have a place in the normal organization," Leschly said. "It was honest to god one of the most extraordinary things a young person can do."

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