Amazon on Friday announced it’s trimming jobs at its Alexa voice assistant unit, citing shifting business priorities and a greater concentrate on generative artificial intelligence.
The cuts affect several hundred employees working on Alexa, in response to the e-mail. A spokeswoman declined to elaborate on exactly what number of were affected.
“We’re shifting a few of our efforts to higher align with our business priorities, and what we all know matters most to customers – which incorporates maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI,” Daniel Rausch, vice chairman of Alexa and Fire TV, said in the e-mail. “These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives.”
Amazon has been pulling back in a wide range of divisions this month, including in its music and gaming divisions and a few human resources roles.
While a lot of the jobs affected were within the devices division, a number of were working on Alexa-related products in a distinct unit, a spokeswoman said. Many firms are shifting resources to generative AI, which may create software code and lengthy text responses from short prompts.
Alexa is a voice assistant that will be used to set timers, ask search queries, play music, or as a house automation hub.
Reuters reported in September that morale within the devices division had suffered over concerns about what some viewed as a weak product pipeline. Specifically, people conversant in the matter pointed to the Alexa voice assistant, now nearly a decade old, as having didn’t keep pace within the age of generative artificial intelligence.
Amazon said on the time that “to suggest that a number of anecdotes paint an image of reality for a corporation as large and diverse as Devices and Services is inaccurate,” and that it stood by its products.
Amazon has said its devices and services business will not be profitable, without providing figures.
Only last month the device unit got a recent chief, Panos Panay, who joined the corporate from Microsoft, replacing David Limp, a 13-year veteran who’s leaving later this 12 months to go Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket company. Panay had overseen development of the Surface tablet.
Amazon has struggled to generate any profits from Alexa, which many individuals use through Echo speakers or video screens. Most efforts to earn a living from it have centered on easing purchasing from Amazon.com.
The Seattle-based online retailer’s voice assistant products compete with offerings from Alphabet and Apple.
Amazon has cut greater than 27,000 jobs across the corporate over the past 12 months, a part of a wave of US tech layoffs after the industry hired heavily people through the pandemic.
The most recent cuts come whilst Amazon reported third-quarter net income that far exceeded analyst estimates and forecast revenue within the 12 months’s final quarter roughly according to expectations. The fourth quarter is Amazon’s most important, because it includes holiday shopping.
In the e-mail, Rausch said he remained optimistic about Alexa.
“Incorporating a recent large language model right into a voice-forward, personal AI, has been and continues to be an unlimited scientific and engineering challenge,” he wrote, using one other term for generative AI.