Amazon to Expand AI Presence with Andrew Ng Appointment, Departure of Former MTV Executive, McGrath

If the decisions made by corporate boards of directors can indicate where a company wants to be focusing, Amazon’s board just made an interesting move. The company announced on Thursday that Andrew Ng, known for building AI at large tech companies, is joining its board of directors. And given the AI whiplash that every big tech company is currently dealing with, it feels timely that McGrath is stepping away from the board now. To stay at the forefront of the tech industry, Amazon will be looking for better thought leadership on the next steps in its artificial intelligence strategy. It’s worth remembering that Amazon has been a leading player in AI for a long time.

If the decisions made by corporate boards of directors can indicate where a company wants to be focusing, Amazon’s board just made an interesting move. The company announced on Thursday that Andrew Ng, known for building AI at large tech companies, is joining its board of directors. The company also said that Judy McGrath — best known for her work as a long-time TV executive, running MTV and helping Viacom become a media powerhouse — will be stepping down as a director.

Taken together, the two moves sketch out an interesting picture of the tech giant’s intentions.

After many costly years of going all-out on building out an entertainment empire (Amazon spent almost $19 billion on its video and music business in 2023), it’s interesting to see that McGrath, who would have been an important advocate and advisor on that strategy, is not going to stand for reelection.

This decision raises questions about Amazon’s direction and future focus.

Is the company shifting its priorities away from entertainment? That remains to be seen. Despite the significant investments in the streaming market, Amazon is now folding in advertising across Prime Video, showcasing its potential to become a major player in the ad industry.

However, recent layoffs in its studio and video divisions and the winding down of Prime Video in certain regions indicate a possible decrease in focus on this segment.

Furthermore, in the midst of the AI revolution, it is timely that McGrath is stepping away from the board. Every tech company is currently grappling with the challenges and potential of artificial intelligence, and it seems that Amazon is looking for fresh perspective and thought leadership on its own AI strategy.

To stay at the forefront of the tech industry, Amazon will be looking for better thought leadership on the next steps in its artificial intelligence strategy.

It’s worth remembering that Amazon has been a leading player in AI for a long time. Its Alexa assistant and Echo devices have revolutionized voice recognition and connected assistants, paving the way for other companies to follow suit. Additionally, Amazon has been investing in autonomous services for both airborne and ground-level delivery, as well as improving its machine learning capabilities to enhance product targeting.

Furthermore, AWS is a major player in AI computing, and the company has invested billions in big AI startups in recent years.

Despite this, for at least a year, there has been a perception both internally and externally that Amazon is “falling behind” on AI technology. The recent advancements of OpenAI’s GPT have only amplified this belief.

Is this perception based in reality or only optics? Only time will tell. However, with the appointment of Andrew Ng to its board, Amazon is poised to gain a breadth of thought leadership and real innovation in the AI space, rather than just following trends.

Ng is potentially a triple-threat board appointment: He has experience in academia, investing, and hands-on building, and has usually handled all three roles simultaneously. He is currently an adjunct professor at Stanford, a general partner at a venture studio called AI Fund, and heads both DeepLearning.AI and computer vision startup Landing AI. Ng is also the chair of Coursera, another edtech startup he founded and used to lead.

Furthermore, Ng has an impressive background in the tech industry. He served as the chief scientist and VP at Chinese search giant Baidu, and founded and led Google Brain, Google’s first major venture into AI technology.

Although Amazon did not provide a statement from Ng in its announcement, it is clear that his appointment brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the company’s board. We have reached out to Ng directly for further comment, and will update if we hear back.

Despite the perception of a new wave of companies and thinkers leading the AI race, established giants like Amazon are not standing idly by. With fresh perspectives and continued innovation, Amazon is committed to holding its place at the forefront of the tech industry.

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Dylan Williams

Dylan Williams is a multimedia storyteller with a background in video production and graphic design. He has a knack for finding and sharing unique and visually striking stories from around the world.

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