Amazon remains ‘fully committed’ to Alexa, despite number of layoffs


Amazon hardware chief Dave Limp has cooled fears surrounding the company’s Alexa division, claiming it hasn’t lost focus on the unit despite the team behind it being the prime target for layoffs.

The US retail giant last year began cutting down the headcount of its corporate workforce as part of cost cutting measures from CEO Andy Jassy.

Amazon’s devices and services division, which oversees the development of products such as Alexa, Echo smart speakers and Kindle e-readers, was among the groups affected by the changes.

Limp’s unit lost just shy of 2,000 workers as a result of the job cuts, he informed CNBC.

Jassy claimed last week the company is looking to cut 18,000 jobs, mostly from its stores and human resources divisions.

This number was approximately 8,000 more than the 10,000 job cuts that were suggested earlier on in the year.

Alongside the company-wide layoffs, Amazon has also announced a freeze on new roles in its corporate divisions and wound down experimental projects including its Telehealth service.

“What we did is we looked at projects that were probably, in this uncertainty, the risk-reward for those projects and what they might deliver for customers wasn’t quite there,” Limp said.

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“Part of that was in Alexa, part of that was in other parts of my organization.”

Still, the company remains “fully committed” to the Alexa unit despite the company taking steps to be more disciplined with costs in “a very uncertain economy,” Limp said.

“There’s still thousands and thousands of people working on this project,” said Limp, speaking from the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. “It’s a big project.”

Since the launch of Alexa in 2014, Amazon has made big strides and hired top talent in order to grow the product.

At one point, Amazon had 5,000 people working on Alexa and Echo devices.

The unit hasn’t been a particularly fruitful one in terms of revenue as the company sells the devices at or near the cost price, this is because it sees them more as a vehicle for bringing more customers into the broader Amazon ecosystem.

“We try to sell our products roughly at break-even, sometimes a little bit more,” Limp pointed out.

“Then, as customers use them, say they shop from their Alexa, that benefits all of Amazon, and gives the customer a great shopping experience, and that’s how we want to monetize these things moving forward.”



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