Online giant Amazon has hired Disney Senior Vice President Kyle Laughlin to run its Alexa Gadgets division, TechCrunch reported on Wednesday (Jan. 9).
Laughlin worked with Disney for eight years, as a general manager of Games, Apps and Connected Experience as part of Disney’s Consumer Products and Interactive Media division.
His job will involve the new “Alexa Gadget” category. The company describes the division as “fun and delightful accessories that pair to compatible Echo devices via Bluetooth.”
When he worked at Disney, Laughlin oversaw apps and hardware for Lucasfilm and Disney games. He worked with artificial intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), augmented reality and virtual reality.
Because of the Amazon Echo’s runaway success, Alexa has become a giant business for the company. Amazon wants to grow the business from just the speaker to a range of connected peripheral devices.
Amazon also recently announced that more than 100 million devices integrated with Alexa have been sold so far. The company was sold out of the Echo through the holiday season and said it was “pushing pallets of Echo Dots onto 747s and getting them from Hong Kong to here as quickly as we possibly could.”
In an interview, Amazon Senior Vice President of Devices and Services David Limp touched on the idea that the proliferation of Alexa in third-party devices could potentially hurt the brand.
“There are hits and misses,” the executive said, adding that he doesn’t think consumers will blame Amazon for less than stellar Alexa devices on the market. “As long as there are existence proofs in each of the categories,” he said, consumers will figure it out.
Amazon is also willing to let device makers support multiple different assistants, as opposed to the platform wars of the past when manufacturers inked exclusive agreements.
Alexa works with Microsoft’s Cortana and Facebook’s Portal, for example. The executive said he’s even open to working with competitors to ensure the assistants work together.
“We’re still a big believer in multiple assistants,” Limp said. “We think they will interact in lots of different ways.”