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Amazon Taps Microsoft’s Talent for Consumer Push

Posted June 26, 2018 | Alexa | Amazon | Cortana | Microsoft | Windows

Amazon is obsessed with Microsoft’s talent. The company hired as many as 30 directors or higher level executives from Microsoft between 2015 and 2017, according to data collected by Paysa. More and more of Microsoft’s top talents have left the company to join Amazon, some even working on the exact same technology at Amazon, focusing on a wider consumer and cloud push.

For example, Amazon hired Ruhi Sarikaya, an ex-Microsoft employee who helped build the language understanding and dialog management capabilities of Cortana. At Amazon, Sarikaya is leading a team of 200 engineers to build Alexa’s natural langauge processing and dialog management tech. Sarikaya isn’t alone — Charlie Kindel, a former Microsoft executive, left the company and ended up joining Amazon’s Alexa team to build some of the core experiences of the virtual assistant after 21 years at Microsoft.

Dave Treadwell, a former CVP at Microsoft working on Windows 10, Xbox, and other products for more than two decades, is now the VP of eCommerce services at Amazon. Microsoft’s former Chief Product Officer is also now at Amazon as a vice president, working under Amazon’s hardware chief Dave Limp. Dirk Didascalou, a former Microsoft CVP spearheading the Surface Hub, is now working at Amazon as the VP of its Internet of Things group. These are only some of the top-level executives who spent years, and even decades at Microsoft, but a lot of other execs and directors are being poached by Amazon more than ever before.

CNBC reports that Amazon has only poached 6 executives from Google, 2 from Apple and eBay, while Facebook, Netflix, and Walmart lost 0 executives. The publication believes Amazon and Microsoft’s location is one of the main reasons behind Amazon poaching more Microsoft employees than any other tech giants.

But brand image plays a huge role here — Sarikaya reportedly moved to work on Alexa because of the personal assistant’s early success, and that could be the reason behind the other executives leaving Microsoft as the firm is slowly moving away from consumer products, increasingly focusing on its enterprise business. That’s not all — CNBC reports that Microsoft has been cutting down compensation for employees for 3 years in a row, and some employees are reportedly unsatisfied with performance rewards while Amazon is giving out significant signing bonuses to hire top talent; Microsoft did poach 9 execs from Amazon, however.

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