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Amazon to cut jobs at Alexa unit to sharpen focus on generative AI


Amazon confirmed Monday that it is planning to lay off several hundred workers at its Alexa division as part of a shift in focus to generative AI.

The company’s emphasis on developing generative AI systems has resulted in the release of new offerings, like the tool rolled out in September to generate copy listings for users selling items on the company’s e-commerce platform. The application is fueled by a large language model (LLM) that Amazon has been developing internally,  originally to support the Alexa smart assistant.

But in a statement Monday, the company said its latest round of job cuts will impact staff working on Alexa-related efforts. “Several hundred roles are impacted, a relatively small percentage of the total number of people in the Devices business who are building great experiences for our customers.”

Amazon noted that there are more than half a billion Alexa devices in customers’ homes. “Our investments in generative AI are bringing our vision for an even more intuitive, intelligent, and useful Alexa closer than ever before,” the company said. “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 maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI. These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives, which is resulting in role eliminations.”

Amazon has already undertaken multiple rounds of layoffs in the last 12 months and this is not the first time Amazon’s devices and services team, which includes those working on the company’s Echo devices and Alexa, has been cut back. Employees in this department were part of 18,000 jobs Amazon axed at the start of 2023.

In March, the company announced it would be laying off an additional 9,000 workers, with the cuts affecting employees at AWS, PXT (People Experience and Technology, Amazon’s HR arm), Advertising, and Twitch, the livestreaming service purchased by Amazon in 2014 for nearly $1 billion.

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