Amazon detailed plans to double the workforce at its Boston technology hub, beginning with the intake of new staff to beef up the capabilities of its Alexa voice assistant.
The company said it will create 2,000 new jobs by 2021, primarily in the fields of machine learning, speech science, cloud computing and robotics engineering to help develop new products and capabilities. The staff will form the bulk of a new intake which will ultimately increase the Boston hub’s workforce from 3,500 today.
Amazon’s Boston-based teams primarily work on Alexa, its Amazon Web Services cloud computing unit and audio book division Audible, with a particular emphasis on R&D in machine learning to improve the Alexa experience.
Rohit Prasad, Amazon’s VP and head scientist for Amazon Alexa, noted in a statement the Boston crew had grown substantially “from a handful of software developers and scientists” in the last few years.
The Alexa investment comes as Amazon aims to maintain its edge over smart speaker competitors including Google and Apple.
Strategy Analytics figures showed Amazon remained the dominant player in the smart speaker space in Q4 2017 with a 52 per cent market share, down from 88 per cent in the comparable 2016 quarter. Meanwhile, Google grew its market share from 9 per cent in Q4 2016 to 36 per cent in Q4 2017.
One person who won’t be helping keep Amazon on top is former Alexa Smart Home director Charlie Kindel.
In a personal blog post, Kindel revealed he left on 27 April after five years with the company in order to take a “very serious break from work”.
Kindel joined the Alexa team in 2015, and was a key figure who helped shape and scale the platform.