Joy Covey, ex-Amazon executive who helped take company public, dies

Joy Covey, who helped take Inc. public as the Internet retailer’s chief financial officer, died Wednesday when her bicycle collided with a van on a downhill stretch of road in San Mateo County. She was 50.

Covey was riding her bicycle down Skyline Boulevard near Portola Valley, according to Art Montiel, a spokesman for the California Highway Patrol in Redwood City. She was pronounced dead at the scene. The San Mateo County coroner’s office confirmed her identity. Covey, who lived in Woodside, was wearing a helmet, Montiel said.

At Amazon, which she joined in December 1996, she served as CFO, then chief strategy officer, in the pioneering days of Internet retailing. Her tasks included persuading investors to be patient as Amazon endured money-losing years on its way to becoming the dominant online seller, according to a 1999 Wall Street Journal story.

“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,” Amazon founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos said of Covey, according to the article. “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.”


Amazon went public on May 14, 1997, with an initial public offering price of $18. Shares closed yesterday at a record $312.06.

In 1999, Fortune magazine named Covey on a list of the 50 most powerful women. “As CFO, her feat was convincing Wall Street that a profitless company was worth $22 billion,” the magazine wrote.

Her son, Tyler, is among her survivors.

A complete obituary will follow at



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