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Leader of Alexa AI jumps ship from Amazon to Google

Ashwin Ram was Senior Manager of Alexa AI at Amazon for about two years, but now is Technical Director of AI at Google Cloud.

Published onMarch 1, 2018

Pictured is the Google Home Mini in the coral color.
  • Ashwin Ram, the former Senior Manager of Alexa AI at Amazon, just jumped ship and is now the Technical Director of AI at Google Cloud.
  • Mr. Ram had a front-facing role at Amazon but now seems to be taking a behind-the-scenes role at Google.
  • This move is part of the ongoing war between the two companies to dominate the smart home industry.

You have to hand it to Google: Amazon got into the smart speaker game way before Google did, but Google caught up pretty fast. While neither Google nor Amazon release numbers in regards to how many Home and Echo products the companies sell, estimates in the industry show Amazon in a clear lead, but Google right behind them and gaining.

That’s why it’s interesting that Ashwin Ram, who was Senior Manager of Alexa AI at Amazon for about two years, just jumped ship to Google. Mr. Ram is now the Technical Director of AI at Google Cloud, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Google Cloud is not a consumer-facing product like Alexa. It seems that Mr. Ram will have more of a behind-the-scenes role at Google as compared to his role at Amazon.

The big story at CES 2018: Google vs Amazon (Video)

In a blog post on LinkedIn, Mr. Ram said, “Google arguably has the best AI on the planet; my role will be to help make that AI even better and broadly available to everyone.” He also added, “I’ve had an awesome couple of years at Amazon Alexa working with some of the smartest people I know. Delighted to have had the opportunity to create and lead Alexa Prize and to experience this legendary Day 1 company from the inside.”

Mr. Ram switching companies is just part of the ongoing fight between Google and Amazon for dominance in our homes. Amazon just bought smart home company Ring for about $1 billion, which came right on the heels of it purchasing another smart home company called Blink. With Google’s Nest and line of Home products, both companies are working hard to put hardware in every room of your house.

As of right now, the two companies don’t have much competition. Apple showed up to the smart speaker game incredibly late and has no other smart home products on its roster. Samsung’s virtual assistant Bixby got off to a very rough start as well, leaving it mostly out of the running. And Microsoft’s Cortana equally lags behind. Unless things turn around soon, it will come down to Google or Amazon for all your smart home choices.

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