Joy Covey, a former Amazon.com CFO who was once named by Fortune magazine as one of the world's most powerful women, died Wednesday after her bicycle collided with a van in San Mateo County, California. Her career trajectory was not a conventional one. A runaway and high-school dropout, Covey passed her equivalency exam and bagged groceries before entering California State At Fresno, graduating in less than three years. She became a certified public accountant and went on to earn a law degree and an MBA from Harvard. In 1996, at age 33, she started at Amazon. It was then a fledgling e-commerce startup that posted annual losses and employed only 150 people.
Covey was the architect of Amazon’s initial public offering in 1997, and coauthored the company's first letter to investors, now considered one of the most exemplary in business. In 1999, she was lauded in Fortune: “As CFO, her feat was convincing Wall Street that a profitless company was worth $22 billion,” the magazine wrote.
When she retired in 2000 in order to spend more time pursuing her personal interests, Covey had an estimated net worth of $200 million and Amazon was well on its way to becoming the retail juggernaut we know now. The company currently has 97,000 employees worldwide and a market capitalization of $142.6 billion.
More recently, Covey had been working as the treasurer for the environmental group National Resources Defense Council. She also founded the Beagle Foundation, which gives funding to environmental causes.
The driver of the van involved in the collision Wednesday has not been cited, though the case is still under investigation. The driver reportedly turned left in front of Covey, who was wearing a helmet, at the last moment as she was coming down a hill. According to the Los Angles Times, Covey is survived by her son, Tyler. (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Photo: Via Bloomberg Businessweek.