The tech world was rocked last week when Microsoft's longtime Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, stepped down from the role. During his time at Microsoft, Panay was responsible for the launch of Windows 11 and the Microsoft Surface product line. So it was a shock that someone who has become synonymous with the Surface brand left Microsoft just days before the expected Surface event. Rumors began to circulate that another Seattle-based tech company, Amazon, was luring him away.
The reports were correct, as a recent press release from Amazon revealed that Panay is joining the company as head of devices and services next month. This arm of Amazon is responsible for a myriad of products, including devices such as the Echo, Fire Tablet and Kindle, and services such as Luna. While the plethora of devices under Amazon's wing can be daunting, CEO Andy Jassy thinks Panay is up for the job, calling him "a strong product builder and inventor who has deep experience in both hardware and integrated services."
Everyone is still into AI
Panay will replace former Head of Devices and Services Dave Limp. But his former is not flying immediately, as the company noted that he would stay on board for a few months to help Panay's transition. When he steps down for good sometime next year, he will take over as CEO of Jeff Bezos' space company, Blue Origin.
Rumors suggested that Panay's role would focus on Alexa and Echo, as Limp did. Panay has a challenging task ahead, as it has been reported that Alexa's failure has cost the company over $10 billion over its lifetime. So it will be up to him to clean up the mess. He also joined during a crucial time for the department, as Amazon just announced that the future of Alexa involves significant AI incorporation.
Taking over Panay's former position is Yusuf Mehdi, who was previously head of consumer marketing at the company. Under Mehdi, Microsoft has already launched its AI assistant Copilot, a companion that works within Microsoft 365 apps to provide real-time assistance to users. It is doubtful, based on his short time in the role, that he was heavily involved in creating this product. He noted in a recent interview with CNBC that Microsoft devices, such as Panay's child, the Surface, would have special AI chips that accelerate the generative software. So it's clear that Mehdi won't be putting the brakes on Microsoft's ambitious AI efforts anytime soon.
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