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Joy Covey, former Amazon executive, dies at 50

Joy Covey, who helped take Amazon.com Inc. public as the Internet retailer's chief financial officer, died Wednesday. She was 50.

Covey collided with a minivan while riding her bicycle downhill on Skyline Boulevard, near Portola Valley, Calif., according to Art Montiel, public information officer at the California Highway Patrol in Redwood City. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Covey, who lived in Woodside, Calif., 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.

Covey left Amazon in April 2000. She was named to JetBlue Airways Corp.'s board of directors in 2003.

More recently she was a trustee at the New York-based Natural Resources Defense Council, which called her "an active environmentalist" who "loves adventure, travel and outdoors activities, including kite surfing, skiing the steeps, and cycling."

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