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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Amazon cutting Alexa employees

Amazon.com Inc. is cutting hundreds of employees in the division responsible for its voice-activated Alexa assistant, according to a memo sent to employees on Friday.

Daniel Rausch, an Amazon vice president who leads teams working on Alexa and the company’s Fire TV streaming franchise, said the company was “shifting some of our efforts to better align with our business priorities,” including focusing on building capabilities powered by generative artificial intelligence.

“These shifts are leading us to discontinue some initiatives, which is resulting in several hundred roles being eliminated.”

Rausch didn’t specify which initiatives would be eliminated.

The Alexa voice assistant powers millions of Echo smart speakers and other devices in homes, but Amazon has struggled to broaden the utility of the software beyond relatively basic tasks like checking the weather and playing music.

OpenAI CEO Altman leaving

Sam Altman, one of the most prominent figures in the world of artificial intelligence, is leaving OpenAI with the company’s board saying he wasn’t always “candid” and that it had lost confidence in him as a leader.

Chief Technology Officer Mira Murati will serve as OpenAI’s interim chief executive officer.

“Mr. Altman’s departure follows a deliberative review process by the board, which concluded that he was not consistently candid in his communications with the board, hindering its ability to exercise its responsibilities,” the company said in a statement.

“The board no longer has confidence in his ability to continue leading OpenAI.”

Murati joined OpenAI in 2018 and was made CTO last year.

“Given her long tenure and close engagement with all aspects of the company, including her experience in AI governance and policy, the board believes she is uniquely qualified for the role and anticipates a seamless transition while it conducts a formal search for a permanent CEO,” the company said in its statement.

Greg Brockman, a co-founder of OpenAI who had been chairman of the board, is also leaving his board post but will still serve as president of OpenAI.

OpenAI is a leading player in AI, and has been in talks to sell employee shares to investors at a valuation of $86 billion – a figure that would make the company one of the largest startups in the world.

From wire reports