Amazon is cutting more jobs within its Alexa division, and is also axing a number of unspecified initiatives within the unit.

CNBC reported that last Friday Amazon began laying off “several hundred” people in its Alexa division as part of broader belt-tightening measures at the e-commerce giant.

It should be noted that these fresh job losses are on top of the 27,000 jobs that Amazon has already axed since November 2022.

Amazon Echo Show 8.
Image Credit Amazon

Devices & Services

The Amazon Alexa voice assistant division was heavily impacted by the previous rounds of job losses, which at the time prompted concern about the future of Echo devices and the Alexa voice assistant.

So much so that David Limp, who used to be Amazon’s senior vice president of Devices & Services – the division responsible for the Kindle, Echo hardware line and the Alexa personal assistant business – had to reassure concerned Alexa customers when Amazon implemented those job cuts.

Matters were not helped when it was reported that the division had fallen out of favour with Amazon’s current management under CEO Andy Jassy.

Alexa was said to be championed by former CEO and founder Jeff Bezos, but it is alleged that Alexa has never managed to create an ongoing revenue stream for Amazon.

Indeed, some reports have suggested the division is losing as much as $10 billion a year.

It has also been suggested that just about every plan to monetise Alexa had failed, with one former employee branding Alexa “a colossal failure of imagination,” and “a wasted opportunity.”

Fresh job cuts

Now according to CNBC, Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s VP of Alexa and Fire TV, sent a note to staffers informing them of the job cuts, according to a copy 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 maximising our resources and efforts focused on generative AI,” Rausch reportedly wrote in the memo. “These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives, which is resulting in several hundred roles being eliminated.”

Amazon didn’t specify which Alexa initiatives it’s winding down as a result of the move.

Amazon said it would reach out last Friday to employees in the US and Canada who were affected.

Staffers in India will be notified this week, while timing in other regions is dependent on local regulations, Rausch reportedly said.

New boss

When David Limp announced in August his intention to step down as boss of Amazon’s Devices & Services unit, further concern was raised about the division.

David Limp, senior vice president of Devices & Services, Amazon.
Image Credit Amazon

Limp had joined Amazon back in 2010 and had been a member of Amazon’s senior leadership team, or “s-team” as it’s known internally. Limp left to join Jeff Bezos’ rocket company Blue Origin.

In September Amazon instead hired Microsoft’s former product boss, Panos Panay, to head up its Devices & Services division.

Panos Panay.
Image credit Panos Panay

It came after eyebrows were raised over the abrupt departure of Panay from Microsoft in early September, just days before Microsoft hosted an event in New York to reveal its next generation of Surface devices.

Earlier this month Amazon announced it was repurposing its household Astro Robot, to act as a security guard for the business community.

Amazon Astro for Business.
Image credit Amazon

The Astro Robot had been introduced by Amazon back in September 2021, but there has questions over the commercial success of the Astro robot, after some media outlets suggested it had only sold a couple of hundred units.

This could be due to its rather expensive price tag of $1,599, and being available in limited quantities and on an invite-only basis.

Alexa meanwhile was once considered as a groundbreaking technology, but digital assistants are now facing increasing competition from generative artificial intelligence and chatbots such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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