Inside Amazon's Alexa unit, once considered to key to the company's future but now facing heavy layoffs
Hi, I'm Matt Turner, the editor in chief of business at Insider. Welcome back to Insider Weekly. For all our readers in the US, I hope you had a lovely and relaxing Thanksgiving. Let's get right to our top reads of the week.
On the agenda today:
- Amazon is gutting Alexa — and employees describe a division in crisis.
- Inside Bob Iger's return to the helm at Disney.
- Leaked email says Twitter employees must send Elon Musk weekly updates.
- A group of Taylor Swift lawyer fans are taking on Ticketmaster.
Amazon's voice-assistant Alexa was once hailed as the "computer of the future" and "the future of every home" — but nearly 10 years later, Alexa is being gutted.
Low employee morale, failed monetization attempts, and a lack of engagement across users and developers has led to Alexa — and the devices team at Amazon — being the prime target of the biggest layoffs in Amazon history.
Over a dozen current and former employees told Insider's Eugene Kim that the division is in crisis — and the mounting losses and massive cuts underscore the swift downfall of Alexa.
Walt Disney stunned Hollywood this week by reinstating Bob Iger as its chief executive, and company insiders told us that his return to the throne came together in a matter of days.
The move came after months of complaints to the board about Bob Chapek, who became Disney's CEO in February 2020. But even as staffers applaud Iger's return, anxiety remains about how he will manage during a rocky economy and potential layoffs.
And Wall Street onlookers have already begun speculating who could take the reins next.
Twitter's remaining employees are now expected to keep its CEO Elon Musk up to date on everything they work on each week.
In a Monday evening email, all employees coding or doing technical work were told they need to submit a weekly summary of what they worked on, what they hoped to complete, and specific lines of code they wrote — "in order to innovate rapidly."
Responding to a tweet citing correspondent Kali Hays' report on the leaked email, Musk said the decision was "not unreasonable."
Plus, check out:
The week of November 14, 2022, will go down in history — and not just Taylor Swift history. The recent Ticketmaster debacle has Swift's fans wanting to challenge corporate monopolies and change the laws underwriting them, forever.
Facing endless questions and concerns over the chaos that ensued during presales for Swift's upcoming Eras Tour, fans gathered on social media to commiserate and take action. Some of those fans are lawyers, and they're looking to advocate on behalf of those who say they've had uniquely troubling Ticketmaster experiences.
This week's quote:
"I had an epiphany at the end of 2019. Every year, we were notified about how many nights we stayed in hotels and how many flights we took. I'd taken 99 flights and spent more than 130 nights in a hotel that year."
- Former EY senior manager Ayomi Samaraweera, sharing why she ultimately left consulting.
More of this week's top reads:
- It's not just Joe Biden. Plenty of Americans are now working into their 80s.
- NBCUniversal layoffs are coming in January.
- Even if the US economy isn't screwed, the stock market is still going to hell.
- Insider investigated five recent police killings of transgender people. None of the officers involved have been charged.
- Google has a secret new project that is teaching artificial intelligence to write and fix code. It could reduce the need for human engineers in the future.
- A real-estate investor shares why it's crucial to get into the market within the next six months.
Curated by Matt Turner. Edited by Hallam Bullock, Phil Rosen, and Lisa Ryan. Sign up for more Insider newsletters here.
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