Ramble On

Bezos announces stepping down as Amazon's CEO; Voice Tech Innovation Week off and running

Voice Tech Innovation Week is underway, with a slew of great sessions the rest of the week. Click the banner to register and get the Zoom links to join in - all registrants receive the full audio and video files of the week, after it concludes.

Big news of the day is the announcement that Jeff Bezos is stepping down as Amazon’s CEO, which goes into effect later this year.

This article from Bloomberg describes well the “new era” Amazon is now entering with this change, and some of the challenges ahead.

This comes as Voice Tech Innovation Week kicked off today with a discussion on the increasing hostility toward big tech and how that is influencing the market to shift toward independent voice/AI solutions over big tech voice/AI solutions.

As discussed as part of this opening session, observe the difference between how the media portrayed big tech just over a month ago (via TechCrunch):

…and then how the media portrayed big tech in January, as the chaos involving Trump’s transition waned and the public regained some bandwidth:

Bezos stepping down as CEO of Amazon, and taking his place the CEO of AWS, has been described as some members of the media today - and I have to agree - as an opening step toward Amazon readying itself to break itself up, rather than have regulators do it.

No one benefits from this more than the many companies providing independent voice/AI solutions of various types - companies like Cerence, SoundHound, Rasa, Cognigy, ReadSpeaker, and many, many, many, many others.

From 2017-2019, not having a voice experience on Amazon’s Alexa ecosystem was a liability. It was the biggest and best playground, with the most innovation and most action, and if you weren’t there, that was seen as a negative.

Now? Having a voice experience on Alexa (or Google Assistant, for that matter) has decidedly shifted to being a secondary option, with cultivating an independently-owned and managed voice/AI capability seen as preferable for mid-sized to large companies getting into conversational AI.

The Alexa and Google Assistant teams now have to figure out how to swim upstream. Bezos stepping down is an acknowledgement that change is in the air. They’re going to have to work twice as hard, and twice as long, to achieve anywhere close to the same amount of market traction and progress in 2021 as they gained in 2019.

They will still win plenty of entry business into the voice/AI space, but will they compete for corporate investment on more sophisticated voice experiences? Time will tell.

Meanwhile, that sound you now hear is VC money flowing unabated into independent voice/AI companies. You haven’t seen anything yet.

Leaves are falling all around
It's time I was on my way
Thanks to you I'm much obliged
For such a pleasant stay