Amazon announced on Friday that it is laying off “hundreds of employees” from its Alexa voice assistant unit. The company cited “shifting” business priorities and a greater focus on generative artificial intelligence as reasons for the layoffs.
The cuts affect “several hundred” staff working on Alexa, according to the email seen by Reuters.
“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,” Daniel Rausch, vice president of Alexa and Fire TV, said in the email. “These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives.”
Amazon has been instituting strategic transformations across several divisions recently, including its gaming and music sectors, along with some human resources roles. Notably, the e-commerce giant’s changes are predominantly affecting the devices division, with a handful of Alexa-focused roles also impacted.
Although the reshuffling might seem drastic, it is aligning Amazon with the future of AI-driven technology. It places the company at the forefront of adopting this transformative technology, further strengthening its position in the global tech landscape. Amazon’s spokeswoman did not divulge much about the company’s small-scale restructuring but emphasized its goal of optimizing resources towards the promising generative AI segment.
An internal slump in staff morale has reportedly hit the devices division in the leading online retail giant, Amazon, as concerns mount over an alleged weak product pipeline. In September, Reuters shed light on insiders’ unease, pointing to the Alexa voice assistant, now almost a decade old, for its seeming incapacity to keep abreast in the era of generative artificial intelligence. However, whereas Amazon rebutted these claims stating that the narrative was not an accurate representation of its entire Devices and Services team, it did acknowledge that profitability was yet to be realized in this specific business area.
Alexa is a voice assistant that can be used to set timers, perform searches, play music, and act as a hub for home automation.
Amazon has recently implemented a second round of layoffs in its games division, eliminating around 180 jobs. This comes as part of a broader restructuring effort at the company, which has been struggling to make its games business profitable.
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