Amazon.com Inc on Wednesday said it has laid off some employees in its devices group as a person familiar with the company said it still targeted around 10,000 job cuts, including in its retail division and human resources.
The announcement, which was decided to make by Amazon for the first time since news organizations like Reuters broke the news of its layoff plans on Monday, signified a dramatic change for a business known for creating jobs and gave more context to the most recent layoffs that have been infesting the technology sector.
The business has decided to merge teams in its devices division, which popularised speakers that the team can control verbally, according to Amazon CEO Dave Limp in a blog post. It gave notice to the workers it fired on Tuesday.
“We continue to face an unusual and uncertain macroeconomic environment,” he said. “In light of this, we’ve been working over the last few months to further prioritize what matters most to our customers and the business.”
Plans, still in flux, to eliminate around 10,000 roles through reductions in more units would amount to about a 3% cut in Amazon’s roughly 300,000-person corporate workforce. The company has offered voluntary buyouts to some human-resources staff, a source familiar with Amazon’s job-cut plans said.
Although it was unclear how broadly consumers had accepted it for duties other than checking the news and weather, the online store sought to make Alexa, the voice assistant that drives the devices it sells, omnipresent and available to place any shopping order.
A project inspired by a talking computer in the science fiction show Star Trek, Alexa had garnered a headcount that grew to 10,000 people by 2019.
Amazon claimed sales of more than 100 million Alexa devices at the time, a number it hasn’t updated publicly since. Later, business founder Jeff Bezos said that Alexa devices were frequently sold at a discount and occasionally even below cost.
While Amazon has toiled to encode intelligent answers to any question Alexa might expect from users, Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft Corp-backed OpenAI have had breakthroughs in chatbots that could respond like a human without any hand-holding.
Dozens of individuals posted on the professional networking site LinkedIn to say Amazon had laid them off, among them people who claimed to work on privacy for Alexa and software for the company’s cloud gaming service Luna.