Joy Covey, Who Helped Take Amazon Public, Killed in Bike Crash

Image: Joy Covey, Who Helped Take Amazon Public, Killed in Bike Crash Joy Covey in 1997.

Friday, 20 Sep 2013 08:09 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Joy Covey, the former chief financial officer of Amazon.com who helped take the multibillion dollar Internet retailer public in the late 1990s, was killed in a bicycling accident. She was 50.

Covey died Wednesday near Portola Valley, Calif. after she collided with a minivan while riding her bicycle downhill. She was pronounced dead at the scene, Bloomberg News reported.

According to a California Highway Patrol spokesman, Covey was wearing a helmet at the time of impact.

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A resident of Woodside, Calif., Covey had joined Amazon in December 1996, having originally served as CFO before becoming the internet giant's chief strategy officer.

In a 1999 Wall Street Journal article, Amazon founder and Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos said Covey's responsibilities, among others, included reassuring investors during the company's initial money-losing years and persuading them to be patient as the company grew.

"Except on an occasional basis when it is critical for me to deal with Wall Street, she makes it possible for me to spend a lot more of my time on the customer experience," Bezos said of Covey to the Wall Street Journal. "But her job is not only in the CFO capacity, but somewhat broader and deeper in communicating our message to investors, which is so important to our future."

When Covey joined Amazon, the company was generating $16 million in sales and had a staff of 150 employees. In 2012 the company had generated more than $61 billion in revenue and had a workforce of some 88,400 employees.

Having gone public in May of 1997 with an initial public offering price of $18 a share, an Amazon share today is valued at $312.06, Bloomberg News noted.

The Boston-born Covey grew up in San Mateo, Calif., having graduated from California State University in Fresno in 1982 before embarking on a career as an accountant with Arthur Young LLP, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Covey would eventually attend Harvard Law School’s joint J.D.-MBA program, from which she graduated in 1989.

Having a salary of less than $100,000, Covey favored a stock option as part of her contract with Amazon, which as of 1999 was worth an estimated $200 million, according to Forbes magazine.

Covey left Amazon in April 2000 and went on to become a member of JetBlue Airways Corp.’s board of directors in 2003.

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Described "an active environmentalist" who "loves adventure, travel and outdoors activities, including kite surfing, skiing the steeps, and cycling," Covey was also a trustee at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, Bloomberg News reported.

She is survived by her son Tyler, among others.

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