Joy Covey,a high school dropout who rose to become a formative leader of Amazon.com,was killed Wednesday,September 18 in San Mateo County,California.She was struck by a minivan while cycling downhill on Skyline Boulevard near Portola Valley and was pronounced dead at the scene,a California Highway Patrol spokesman said.She was fifty years old.
The brilliant and beautiful blonde had been named to Fortune magazine's Most Powerful Women in Business 1999.The daughter of a doctor and a nurse,she dropped out of San Mateo High School in her freshman year,but passed the high school equivalency exam and graduated from Cal State Fresno in 1982 at age 19,when she passed the CPA exam,scoring second best in the nation.She worked for accounting firm Arthur Young LLP before attending Harvard,from which she earned her MBA and JD degrees in 1989.
Ms.Covey worked in Silicon Valley as chief financial officer for audio software firm Digidesign,Inc.,shepherding it through its IPO and eventual sale to Avid Technology,Inc. before accepting the CFO position at the fledgling Amazon.com in Seattle in 1996.At the time,it had only 150 employees.Her special role at Amazon was to help founder Jeff Bezos recruit senior management and be the firm's Wall Street liaison,sharing the money-losing company's vision with nervous investors.This freed Bezos to focus on the retailer's all-important customer experience.
A multimillionaire from her Amazon stock options compensation,Covey resigned from the rat race in 2000 to pursue her interests in extreme sports and the environment,earning her pilot's license and becoming a trustee and Treasurer at the Natural Resources Defense Council.She was appointed to the board of JetBlue Airways in 2003.
Ms.Covey is survived by her son Tyler,eight.Our sincere condolences to her friends and family.