Amazon.com's President Resigns

Joseph Galli Jr., Amazon.com's president and chief operating officer, is leaving after just 13 months at the online retailer to become CEO of VerticalNet which operates Web sites that provide information and business-to-business e-commerce capabilities for various vertical industries.

Galli joined Seattle-based Amazon early last year, after a 19-year career at Black & Decker in Towson, Md. The price of Amazon's stock dropped 8% earlier today after the company announced that Galli was leaving "for personal reasons." The stock made a partial recovery later in the day but was still off nearly 3% at the close of trading.

Amazon said founder and CEO Jeff Bezos also will resume the duties of company president. In a statement, Bezos thanked Galli for "his hard work and accomplishments over the last year," and added that the departing executive "is making the right decision for him and his family circumstances."

Galli "undoubtedly made a great contribution, but ultimately the value of Amazon goes beyond any individual, with the exception of maybe [Bezos]," said Kevin Silverman, a financial analyst at ABN AMRO NV in Chicago.

Silverman said he still considers Amazon the "most likely contender" for the title of largest online retailer because of its large physical capacity for one-to-one distribution and its reputation for good customer service. But Galli's departure "showcases the need [for Amazon] to be on the lookout to recruit really great talent," he added.

VerticalNet currently runs 57 industry-specific Web sites. Galli takes over the CEO job at the Horsham, Pa.-based company from Mark Walsh, who was named VerticalNet's chairman. In a statement, Galli said he hopes "to dramatically expand VerticalNet's impact on e-commerce and build the company into a driven business-to-business force."

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