From frying Panos into the Fire? Amazon confirms hiring of Microsoft veteran

Device chief, who quit the beast of Redmond last week, takes similar role at arch rival

Amazon has finally confirmed what many in the industry already suspected: that Panos Panay, Microsoft's recently departed veep for devices, is joining to run its own gadget and service biz.

The exec abruptly ended his 19 year tenure at Microsoft last week, only saying that he'd "decided to turn the page and write the next chapter," without providing any context for the decision or discussing his next move.

Reports are that Panay grew disillusioned at the software and cloud giant after Microsoft clipped the Windows + Devices division that he has run since 2020 following revenue declines in the corporation's Q4 of fiscal 2023 ended 30 June. Windows revenues fell $337 million, or 5 percent year-on-year, and Devices was down 20 percent.

The Microsoft old timer then quit just days before the latest Surface device announcements, and he has now rocked up at Amazon to replace Dave Limp, who is himself moving on to head up Jeff Bezos's aerospace company Blue Origin.

Amazon CEO Andy Jassy noted the arrival of Panay to "lead our Devices & Services business, reporting to me and going S-Team," also known as the senior leadership. The unit includes the Alexa and Fire products.

"As a strong product builder and inventor who has deep experience in both hardware and integrated services, Panos will be a great addition," added Jassy.

The schedule will see industry veteran Panay start at the beginning of October, and he'll work with Limp for a couple of months during the handover phase.

Panay was reportedly unhappy with the changes at Microsoft this year, yet he is entering a business unit at Amazon which is also reportedly dealing with low staff morale following a wave of staff cuts. Microsoft is making 10,000 11,000 staff redundant this year, and Amazon is going even further by chopping 27,000. Both hired rapidly during the pandemic and are now dealing with the fallout from slowing trading conditions.

According to Reuters, which says it interviewed 15 current and former staff at the division Panay will run, Amazon has at least five new devices under development including a home projector and a carbon monoxide detector. Amazon refused to comment. Insiders claimed to the newswire that Alexa staff were included in the extensive layoffs.

Other senior big hitters in the division resigned at the end of last year, including Alexa senior veep Tom Taylor and Gregg Zehr, president of Lab126, which is what the hardware business is known as internally.

Panay was replaced at Microsoft by Yusuf Mehdi, consumer chief marketing officer. ®

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