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Amazon is laying off 'several hundred' Alexa staff to focus on AI

The company says its maximizing its resources to focus on generative AI.

Published onNovember 17, 2023

Amazon logo on phone next to boxes stock photo 16
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority
  • A leaked internal memo from Amazon reveals the company is preparing for layoffs.
  • Amazon plans to cut “several hundred” jobs from its Alexa department.
  • The move is meant to help Amazon maximize its resources toward its current priorities — generative AI.

Yesterday, Amazon announced a partnership with Hyundai that would allow shoppers to browse for cars on the website. As part of that deal, Hyundai is putting Alexa in its cars starting in 2025. Only one day later, Amazon has internally announced plans for massive layoffs to its Alexa department.

Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of Alexa and Fire TV, sent an internal memo to employees earlier today. Obtained by GeekWire, the memo states Amazon’s intentions to shift its focus to its generative AI efforts. Unfortunately, it appears this change in priorities will come at the cost of “several hundred” jobs in the US, Canada, India, and a few other regions.

“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 says. “These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives, which is resulting in several hundred roles being eliminated.”

Amazon first detailed its generative AI ambitions during its September Devices and Services event. The organization then rolled out one of its AI projects for Alexa in October, Amazon Kids Plus — a feature predominantly meant for kids. The retail giant is also expected to launch AI features meant for broader audiences — like Let’s Chat — that will make the virtual assistant more conversational. However, those features are scheduled to roll out publically in 2024.

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