Amazon is going all in on the Echo, its popular smart-home device. Today (Sept. 27) in Seattle, the company unveiled a new version of the Echo, a small mottled-gray cylinder designed to blend into its surroundings, as well as a larger, shinier Echo Plus, and plenty of other stuff.
Perhaps the clearest sign that Amazon is investing big in the Echo and the virtual personal assistant that goes with it, Alexa, came from a comment made by David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices and services: More than 5,000 people now work just on Alexa.
Five thousand people is a relatively small slice of Amazon’s overall headcount, which hit 382,400 full- and part-time employees in the most recent quarter. Still, it’s a sharp increase from 15 months ago, when Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said there were about 1,000 people working on Alexa and the Echo. “It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” he said at the time.
The Alexa division has been hiring a lot. Last October, Recode reported there were over 400 openings on Amazon’s Alexa job page, from data engineers to machine-learning scientists. Many of the jobs were in Seattle, site of Amazon’s headquarters. Others were in Cambridge, Massachusetts; Tempe, Arizona, and Gdansk, Poland.
That same jobs page still lists hundreds of openings, including 200 positions for “Alexa Engine,” 207 openings for “Alexa Machine Learning, and 30 in “Alexa Household Organization.”