Forrester analyst Jay McBain talks about what Yeum did well and could have done better.

Kelly Teal, Contributing Editor

November 16, 2021

4 Min Read

Amazon Web Services soon will have a new channel chief.


AWS’ Doug Yeum

The world’s largest public cloud provider confirmed to Channel Futures on Monday night that Doug Yeum is indeed departing.

Earlier in the day, word had started to circulate that Yeum, AWS channel chief for just a little more than two years, soon will move over to the retail division of Amazon. To be sure, that change will come on Dec. 6, just after AWS wraps its annual re:Invent conference, where Yeum still is slated to speak. He leaves as Adam Selipsky has served as AWS CEO for six months.

AWS says it will name Yeum’s successor on Nov. 22. Who that person will be remains anyone’s guess. Chances are, he or she will come from outside of AWS. A leaked memo from Matt Garman, senior vice president of sales and marketing, to his direct reports, implies as much.

“Doug was gracious enough to give me some time for a seamless transition, which has allowed us to explore the market and find a great leader who will help us continue to scale the partner business,” Garman wrote in a note verified by AWS.

That person will have big shoes to fill. While Yeum came to his role as head of worldwide channels and alliances with little channel experience, that didn’t deter him from making significant advancements for AWS.


Forrester’s Jay McBain

“I think Doug did a great job of pulling together a very decentralized and fragmented program and executing a unified global launch,” Jay McBain, principal analyst — channels, partnerships and ecosystem, at Forrester, told Channel Futures. “He also saw the channel triple under his watch to over 100,000 partners.”

AWS Needs to Get Its Channel People Out More

But there’s a “but” coming.

Companies earn street cred and partner loyalty when they meet the channel face to face. Yeum didn’t do enough of that at independent forums, McBain pointed out. That probably hurt AWS.

“I think Doug could have spent more time out in front of partner communities outside of highly scripted AWS internal events,” McBain said. “Engaging the community in the watering holes they frequent – [for example], the 5,000 agents and MSPs at CP Expo two weeks ago – would have paid dividends and the new leader should take special note.”

(As a side note, Channel Futures did indeed invite Yeum and AWS to a closed-door roundtable session held on Monday, Nov. 1. We were told no one could attend because of final preparations for re:Invent, which starts on Nov. 29.)

Here’s our list of channel people on the move in October.

Meanwhile, Yeum’s short tenure at the APN helm highlights an ongoing problem within the channel: Most channel chiefs don’t stick around for long.

“The industry average is 4.2 years for large company channel chiefs,” McBain told Channel Futures this past March when AWS rival Microsoft said it would replace Gavriella Schuster.

Compared to the average, Yeum lasted just shy of two-and-a-half years.

Whether due to politics, burnout, better job offers or personal reasons, channel chief turnover is real and happens all the time. This dents partner trust. Channel partners pride themselves on relationships. Indeed, at the recent Channel Partners Conference & Expo, many conversations centered on attendees’ misgivings about investing fully in companies that don’t keep their heads of channel.

Even though a number of channel chiefs bounce around different businesses within the industry, vendors would do well to hold on to their strong channel leaders. Partners put their effort into providers that prove their loyalty to the indirect channel, often through their top channel people.

Channel Futures intends to explore the topic of channel chief longevity in upcoming coverage. We also have inquiries out to several AWS partners for comment on Yeum’s departure and will follow up with another article.

AWS is not commenting further on Yeum’s move over to

Yeum’s appointment as channel chief came after a two-year stint as chief of staff for Andy Jassy, now CEO of Amazon. Prior to that, Yeum led AWS’ Korea operations for almost six years.

Want to contact the author directly about this story? Have ideas for a follow-up article? Email Kelly Teal or connect with her on LinkedIn.


About the Author(s)

Kelly Teal

Contributing Editor, Channel Futures

Kelly Teal has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist, editor and analyst, with longtime expertise in the indirect channel. She worked on the Channel Partners magazine staff for 11 years. Kelly now is principal of Kreativ Energy LLC.

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