CNBC is reporting that the former Vice President of Amazon Video, Jim Freeman, has returned to the company to support the Alexa team. It is tempting to see the timing of the report and think it is directly related to the conflict Amazon is having with YouTube, but it is helpful to clarify that Mr. Freeman returned to Amazon eight months ago. That was six months ahead of Amazon’s first public issue with YouTube. He had left to work with German fashion retailer Zalando but was gone from Amazon for just six months.
An Alexa Commitment to Video
Mr. Freeman’s LinkedIn profile shows him returning to Amazon in March as a Vice President, but no more information is provided to indicate his current responsibilities. CNBC’s Eugene Kim reports:
“Freeman is now in charge of Alexa communications service, which covers video calling, calling and messaging features, a person familiar with the matter said…Freeman’s addition to Alexa underscores Amazon’s focus on incorporating video with its widely popular voice-assistant technology.”
Amazon’s commitment to video on Alexa devices is clear. The addition of Mr. Freeman to the Alexa team shortly before the launch of the Echo Show appears to reinforce that point. The second removal of YouTube from Amazon Echo Show over a six week period demonstrates how important it is for Amazon to have greater ownership over the video content and video experience it would like to deliver to customers. There are no peers to YouTube today, but Facebook is moving in that direction and there are many reasons why another service could arise to challenge for video marketshare. Amazon certainly has the ingredients to make a run at it.