Kindel Takes Control
Prime Cut: Charlie Kindel, the former Alexa exec who improbably shares the name of Amazon’s e-book reader, has found greener pastures in more traditional CE. After first developing the Windows Phone for Microsoft and then leading the team that gave rise to Alexa, Kindel is now putting his smart-home smarts to good use at Control4.
TWICE Take: Reporting directly to CEO Martin Plaehn, Kindel will rule Control4’s handheld roost as products and services senior VP. And it sounds like he’s all in, as his thoughts on this latest gig smack of digital assistant heresy. Having once praised Alexa’s voice-control technology as a major inflection point in the evolution of computer interfaces, Kindel now commented that “Voice is not the only UI.”
See the full story at TWICE.
The 3-Question Test For Amazon Employment
Prime Cut: So you wanna work for Jeff Bezos, huh? Apparently it all boils down to three questions that every Amazon recruiter must consider before OK-ing any candidate. Bezos shared the simple litmus test with shareholders back in 1998, after the nascent e-tailer ballooned from 10 to 2,100 employees in three years, and it’s still in effect, two decades and 497,900 workers later.
TWICE Take: Acknowledging that it takes extraordinary people to accomplish extraordinary things, Bezos noted in the shareholders letter that “Setting the bar high in our approach to hiring has been, and will continue to be, the single most important element of Amazon.com’s success” — which led to the following recruiter questions:
1. “Will you admire this person?”
2. “Will this person raise the average level of effectiveness of the group they’re entering?”
3. “Along what dimension might this person be a superstar?”
See the full story at CNBC.
Alexa: ‘I’ll Get Back To You On That’
Prime Cut: Amazon is adding a new wrinkle to Alexa’s repertoire. Perhaps in response to Google Assistant’s superior repository of knowledge, which, according to Adweek, provides six times more answers to user questions than Alexa, Amazon has come up with “Answer Updates.”
TWICE Take: Rolling out across the Alexa platform this week, the new feature allows the digital assistant to notify users if it later learns the answer to a question that initially stumped it. “The Alexa service is getting smarter every day, and Answer Updates is just another way we’re continuing to expand Alexa’s Knowledge Graph,” a company spokesperson said. So instead of “Sorry, I didn’t understand the question,” Echo owners can expect to hear the Cloud equivalent of “Lemme get back to you on that.”
See the full story at TechCrunch.
Poking A Sleeping Bear
Prime Cut: Amazon’s aggressiveness in all things retail may have some unwelcome consequences for the e-tail giant, for the more it builds out its business the more it rouses Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, out of its digital complacency.
TWICE Take: Not accustomed to playing second fiddle, the discounter has been pulling out all the stops in its race to achieve online hegemony, beginning with its 2016 acquisition of Jet.com and the ascendancy of its co-founder Marc Lore. Since then Walmart has formed multichannel partnerships with Alphabet’s Waymo, Japan’s Rakuten and ridesharing’s Uber and Lyft; is embarking on a five-year AI development deal with Microsoft; and reportedly plans to beef up its Vudu streaming service to take on Amazon Prime Video, all while operating two separate tech incubator facilities focused on next-gen retail. Sounds like the sleeping bear is wide awake now.
See the full story at The Verge.
Amazon’s Trillion-Dollar Day Is Coming
Prime Cut: Apple may have been the first company to achieve a trillion-dollar market cap, but Amazon isn’t far behind. According to Ann Winblad, a venture capitalist and Business Week Top 25 Silicon Valley power broker, Amazon has already passed Alphabet in market value ($900 billion to $852 billion), and is next in line to achieve the $1 trillion milestone.
TWICE Take: “The growth behind Amazon is huge,” she told CNBC’s Squawk Box, as its advertising business catches up with Google’s, and the company continues to grow its e-commerce and enterprise software operations. According to Amazon chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky, those latter two units were a “big contributor” to the tech giant’s second-quarter payday, when profits topped the $2 billion-mark for the first time.
See the full story at CNBC.
Amazon Quote Of The Week
“It would be impossible to produce results in an environment as dynamic as the Internet without extraordinary people.” — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a 1998 shareholder letter on his hiring philosophy