The Amazon Echo Show 8 smart-home system is unveiled through the Amazon Devices and Services occasion on the HQ2 campus in Arlington, Virginia, US, on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. Amazon.com Inc. previewed a push into generative synthetic intelligence with new options for its Alexa voice assistant. Photographer: Al Drago/Bloomberg by way of Getty Images
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Amazon on Friday started shedding “several hundred” jobs in its Alexa division as a part of broader belt-tightening throughout the corporate that is been underway since final yr, the corporate confirmed.
Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice chairman of Alexa and Fire TV, despatched a word to staffers informing them of the job cuts, in accordance with a replica of the memo shared by an Amazon spokesperson.
“As we continue to invent, we’re shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities, and what we know matters most to customers — which includes maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI,” Rausch wrote within the memo, which was reported earlier by GeekWire. “These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives, which is resulting in several hundred roles being eliminated.”
Amazon did not specify which Alexa initiatives it is winding down on account of the transfer.
The firm will attain out on Friday to staff within the U.S. and Canada who have been affected. Staffers in India will probably be notified subsequent week, whereas timing in different areas depends on native laws, Rausch stated.
Amazon CEO Andy Jassy has been in cost-cutting mode since final yr because it reckons with an financial downturn and slowing development in its core retail enterprise. The firm initiated the biggest layoffs in its historical past, slicing greater than 27,000 jobs, and axed a lot of its extra unprofitable initiatives. Amazon beforehand lower staff in its gadgets and companies division, which incorporates Alexa.
Since its launch in 2014, Amazon has made huge investments in Alexa and assigned prime expertise to develop the know-how, largely on the path of Jeff Bezos, who first pitched Alexa and strongly believed voice would play a key function in how folks work together with computer systems sooner or later. At one level, Amazon had 5,000 folks engaged on Alexa and Echo.
Alexa and digital assistants prefer it have been as soon as ground-breaking know-how, however they face rising competitors from generative AI and chatbots like OpenAI’s ChatGPT. In September, Amazon teased updates to Alexa which might be tied to generative AI, resembling composing messages on behalf of customers. The unit overseeing Alexa additionally has a brand new chief, after longtime gadgets head Dave Limp left to hitch Bezos’ rocket firm Blue Origin. Limp was changed by veteran Microsoft govt Panos Panay.
Rausch stated Amazon stays “encouraged by the progress we’re making with Alexa,” noting that customers have interacted with the digital assistant “tens of millions of times every hour,” and there are greater than 500 million Alexa gadgets in shoppers’ houses.
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